Marcus Dowling

Obsess over history. Love the future.





From a 2011 Scold Recordings moombahton release by UK-based and techno-friendly producer John "Disgraceland" Stanhope (that was re-released on moombahton inventor Dave Nada's Diabluma Sound label), the title "All My Zeroes Are Greater Than Your One" sums up the nature of my professional aspirations. I was born and raised in Washington, DC, and as a fat kid who lived the stereotypical life of a fat kid, I was a zero. I even further made myself a zero by deciding at a very young age that I had a desire to deeply understand, but not affiliate myself with mainstream culture and/or things that attract large groups of people of any race, creed, socio-political or socio-economic group. Thus, I'm the dissenting opinion in the maddening crowd, the constant thinking individual looking for the unexplored vantage point that often lies in a direct line of sight with the truth. While yes, I am one, because I so fervently believe that nobody appreciates or cares about the truth that I want to offer them, I've accepted being the zero, important as a number, but, to many, lacking any discernible worth.


I graduated from college and - amazingly enough given that I decided to parlay my obsessive interest in music into becoming a DJ (which I did in order to have a limitless number of songs at my disposal to play, hear, learn from and appreciate), plus being seen as a "cool alcoholic" in various professional positions - became a ONE. Being a one led me into a 13 year career in professional wrestling as a manager - think Bobby "The Brain" Heenan or Jimmy Hart - which, when coupled with drinking, partying and feeling entirely uncomfortable in my skin, had the unintended effect of leading me into revelations about who I had become and the sudden moment of reckoning where one decides they need to change their entire life.


As Ieft my old self behind, I dedicated myself to music, brand management and a life of progressive social advocacy. After living what I felt was a lie for roughly 10 years of my life, I needed to discover the truth, showcase the truth, and shepherd others into finding the same benefits from living a life defined by honesty (above all else) as I had.

Upon seeing the title of Disgraceland's slow, deep, harrowing journey of a track, my entire life made sense, and a lot of what you will read here that has become NULLSET was developed. I'm comfortable being a "ZERO" again, and want to create a literal null set of talented writers, social commentators and motivated progressives to create a site that proves that "ALL MY ZEROES ARE GREATER THAN YOUR ONE."




The concept is called NULLSET.ME. The idea, to have a social experiment couched in substantive conversations about the progression of humankind through the development of content (for a website that would feature a daily updated blog as well as a weekly podcast) that meets three tenets.  

  1. The content creators must be STRONGER THAN DISCIPLINE in their character.
  2. The content they post/advocate for must represent some manner of SOCIOPOLITICAL ANARCHY.
  3. The person writing must inherently believe that their content cannot be commodified by typical means, and thus is GREATER THAN ZERO. 

If unaware, in math a null set is a group of integrals that when combined have a negligible value, or one that equals zero. The idea for NULLSET is to advocate for ideas that (whether popular or unpopular) come intrinsically from a place that showcases a freedom from multiples of the number zero (as in crowds of people, number of FB likes/Soundcloud clicks, number of dollars earned, etc.), in order to access the truest sense of creativity. With the internet arguably quite rapidly become a space for gamification (through likes, RTs, Klout scores, etc.) NULLSET would advocate for TRUE progression, and hopefully would become a one-stop shop for the person looking for intelligence, simplicity and opinions not shrouded in a desire to be cool, get famous or startthe clock ticking on what has become 15 seconds, not minutes, of fame.

In NULLSET representing an experiment in progressive social chemistry couched in a website, the scientific notion upon which the website is based requires that the experiment have a control group (the content contributors to the website) and an experimental group (the area more often than not being studied). The "experimental group" for the site is none of ther than the residents of and social/physical environment of the city in which I was born (and still live), Washington, DC.


DC is a terrific city to use as a space to case study the progressive notions that will affect the evolution of humankind. Once known as "Chocolate City" and a "federal town," it's arguable that neither classic definition of the Nation's Capital applies. As of 2011, the trditional African-American stronghold on being DC's dominant population disappeared. The city is experiencing gentrification at an alarming rate, young white professionals moving to the city at an incredible rate, curiously enough sparked by the election of Barack Obama in 2008.  As well, the growth in the creative sector has been incredible too, as between a rise in the opening of new restaurants and music venues, plus the growth of bike-sharing and ride-sharing programs, the city is arguably painting a picture of what the future we always dreamed of looks like.


Well then, you're probably asking yourself right now, if all these eyes are on the city, then why is a site using DC as a case study to advocate for global acceptance of progressive ideology? It's quite simple, and I'll use examples from the world of music to illustrate my point. From a creative standpoint, DC has never successfully made a mainstream industry of its creative aspirations. In fact, whenever popular culture has "zigged" in a major direction, it has always been DC that has "zagged" the other way. When rock and roll became a bloated, arena-filling monolith, it's DC's punk rock sound that represented raw, honest and stripped down emotion. When New York City and Def Jam put rap on the tongue of kids worldwide, DC's go-go sound (though later co-opted by rap on occasion) was again potent and expressive, yet entirely different than the mainstream. Fast forward to today's EDM craze, and there's DC again, producer Dave Nada's invention of moombahton  - a sound slower, deeper and quite possibly far more emotionally connective than the massive, loud and electronic styles dominating festivals and the pop charts. DC's always been an outlier, and now - in an era where digital culture persists at the edge of life - it's NULLSET's belief that DC can represent an accurate view of how the world can accept and adpot the future in a safe, yet spectacular manner.



The content for NULLSET.ORG on a practical level represents just that. Practical access to practical (yet always progressively motivated) content. Conceptually, the voice of the site is important. Ideally, the voice is meant to come from every space where the voices are the strongest but representation is lacking. Thus, there are more women than men, more minorities than caucasians and more culture than music. Also, I don't want there to be too much content on the site, as each piece will have its own marketing and sponsorship arm attached, i.e., the posts will be sponsored by certain brands. Thus, there will be approximately 3-4 posts per week. Those of you contributing content are in my mind some of the best in the world at what you do, so, you deserve that platform.

Marcus Dowling (Executive Director, @marcuskdowling): Once a month I would write frankly about a 800-pound gorilla in some aspect of a particular industry, be that music, advertising, marketing, branding, etc.  

Shelly Bell (Chief Curator, @iamshellybell) - Shelly. would be the point person for folks to get in touch with for day-to-day issues and back and forth conversation. Shelly's gifted not just as a poet, writer and songwriter, but as a sounding board.  

Briana Younger (Music. @TheQueenBri) - Briana is an African-American female from Asheville, NC who loves ratchet rap and screamo pop. She also writes for NPR, works for Sirius and at one point was an intern at WKYS-FM here in DC. She's fantastic. She's also done all of this before reaching like, 23 years of age. Mind blowing.

Christina Hammond (Fashion. @MISSCNH) Christina's an intern at WLVS Radio for Olivia Fox and Cristina Payne. She's the only person I've ever interviewed for an internship and had two or three OTHER jobs in mind for her. Christina would contribute short, useful pieces from you about wardrobe items for men and women. Like, pieces about ties, belts, etc. The little stuff that takes an outfit to the next level, or more appropriately, something that someone can read about on the site and then immediately buy from a store.  

Allison Lane (Life Stories. @allieblablah) Allison Lane is a giant ball of energy that is figuring out how to get focused and win at life. She's also on the Olivia Fox Show with Christina on WLVS, and is shining as a co-host. All that being said, she has the MOST entertaining stories that end up with positive endings and the most amazing (yet beneficial) life lessons. As much as I love FastCompany, Allison's content will blow theirs (and everyone else's) out of the fucking water. LOL.

Sonya Collins (Classic DC culture in the modern age. aka "Don't be a Bama" - @sonya_wins) Sonya's that person who is like Starsky and Hutch's Huggybear in the sense that she has both street and book smarts. She's hyper-aware of the changes happening in the city, and is one of the few folks I know in DC who has the ability to grow up in traditionally all-black "East of the (Anacostia) River" DC, yet deny the taditional conditioning of residents of that area and be socially/professionally fully comfortable with people of all racial and cultural backgrounds.

Carrie Epps (Food. @zerbitt) - Carrie's the most compassionate vegan I know. Carrie would write profiles on fruits and vegetables and their practical benefits, as well, with whole food/slow food becoming a movement, it deserves to be broken down for the general population. The content would be, like, 500 words on why you'd want to buy an avocado (besides making guacamole). 

Allison Howe (Food. @eatyaveggies) - Another compassionate vegetarian, her cause is advocating for sustainable access to healthy food for the economically disadvantaged. 

Amy Douglas (Musical Talking Head. @AmyBDouglas) - Amy's a link to the past, present and future of music in one human being. She's also my favorite vocalist (check out SPF 5000, Feints or any of her solo work on a plethora of house and disco tracks) She's also one of the most entertaining people when she speaks "real talk" about music. Amy's writing with excitement, anger, passion, etc. would be amazing.

Paige Plissner (EDM Artist Profile. @fthelothario) Paige is quickly becoming the best jack-of-all-trades in DC dance music. Host of WLVS Radio's CUFF Radio, also learning how to be a journalist, PR, A & R and behind-the-scenes dynamo, she would talk about one producer that folks should check out if they had time to listen to just one producer (since that's about all the time the average person has for underground EDM right now).

Natalia Linares (Notes from the #WORLDWILD, @conrazon) - Natalia heads Conrazón, probably my favorite Latin/African/progressive music PR firm anywhere. She has an eye, ear and soul for the future, and she's going to win. As well, she works in programming with Central Park's Summerstage, plus a ton of other amazing stuff as well. Natalia has these amazing updates for her company, and I would simply post them, as well as anything else she had going on.  

Jamie Benson (TV and Film - @jbenok) - Once THE go-to name for rising rap (his Funkadelic Freestyles show STILL does that, and literally ask Wale or Oddisee about his pedigree), giving Jamie the ball here to discuss TV and Film from the Netflix, Hulu an On-Demand perspective. Jamie's work is so thorough and he is so deserving of spotlight that he's the only white male voice the site has. 



Site sponsors would not sponsor the site as a whole, but instead would have advertising running alongside content that aligns with their particular aims. Down the line, this would be a revenue earner for the site, and would create the pool that would pay my friends for writing for my site, lol. For the first year, though, I've identified the following companies/organizations that would ideally sponsor content for free, in order to give future content sponsors a sense of what they would be able to look forward to receiving in exchange for their support.

Shelly Bell - City Arts Project - Shelly's personal website and hub for her myriad of art projects.
Carrie Epps & Allison Howe - - Chef Allison Sosna's Microgreens teaches SNAP benefit recipients how to eat on a budget that falls within the paltry sums associated with SNAP/foodstamps.
Allison Lane - SpeakeasyDC - Amy Saidman's organization allows regular people the opportunity to tell their incredible, and oftentimes motivating stories to audiences on a monthly basis. 
Amy Douglas - Som Records - Located at the corner of 14th and U Streets, NW in DC, Som is one of the nation's most respected indepdendently owned record stores, specializing in classic and rare content.
Sonya Collins - Don't Be a Bama - New local clothing line that features the use of classic DC-familiar slang for someone who dresses in a not-so-fashionable manner or is generally just socially unaware in a negative manner.
Christina Hammond - ideally any of a great number of indepdendently operated clothiers in the DC area)
Jamie Benson - If everything was everything, seeing his content sponsored by a connection made through this assignment with Complex would be amazing. He ideally fits the company's demographic and has tremendous growth potential.
Marcus Dowling - As well, through this assignment, having the Marc Ecko stamp of approval on my work would be incredible.

Organic is Sustainable - NULLSET.ORG's WEEKLY PODCAST

The hardest thing to be in the world is yourself. Ironically enough, that’s the best thing to be.

Organic is Sustainable is a weekly podcast meant to consider, then understand the nature of the development of the meaning of time, self-actualization and economies in the current era. As the internet has developed and society gains a far more digital construct, the ability to meet that long-stated by parents to their children adage of you can be ANYTHING you want to be - is now entirely possible. The key, above all else is to derive your success from that which is intrinsically organic, meaning ultimately to do exactly - no, LITERALLY exactly - what it is that you want to do. There are those who intend to (and succeed in) making the achievement of this ideal (even when acknowledging how difficult it is) seem simple. This is not the goal of Organic is Sustainable. Ideally, tuning in to the podcast is the point at which you awaken to the idea of ultimately just how hard it is to be yourself in a world where arguably, perpetual individuality is frowned upon. From failure to heartbreak to motivation to excellence, this show will cover the gamut of emotions felt during this incredible, yet - in order to match the progression of culture - intrinsically necessary time.

The nature of work, as well as the nature of finance in a space free from normal constructs of time, space and place is important as well. In a digital world where decentralization and cultural currency are king, one million well executed ideas are just as powerful as one million dollars. As well, every action having the potential for immense global reaction, thus opening immense global possibilities is an audacious new ideal that will often be considered. Finding out how do we accept these facts, and furthermore, what happens to our lives once we do is important work that this podcast is meant to accomplish.

Hosts Marcus Dowling and top local-to-national DIY craftswoman Tina Henry (aka Tina Seamonster) are early-adopting products of the power of global communication and radical shifts in time, space and place. Dowling spent 30 years living the dreams of everyone else around him before truly finding success and happiness doing exactly what makes him happiest: simultaneously holding four separate jobs in the music and arts world. Henry - a child raised as much by her parents as punk rock music - embraced the wildness, freedom and eventual success within herself in becoming Tina Seamonster: DIY crafter, podcaster extraordinaire and mother of clones.


A $5,000 budget would pretty much ensure that NULLSET.ME from a physical and branding standpoint would exceed my vision. From wrestling to writing to living, breathing and enjoying life, exceeding my vision has always been my goal. Being able to so quickly achieve that goal with an platform with unlimited possibility would be incredible.

Thanks in advance for your time,

Marcus Dowling




Please sign in or sign up to comment.