What We The Best About: Khaled Lost at Sea

The Key is To Not Mistake Raymond Chandler for Raymond Carver

Heyhey Sternal Journaliesies,

We’re still talking about what I talk about when I talk about DJ Khaled. But first, I have to correct yet another Classic Julian editorial mistake. Last week, I named Raymond Chandler as the author of “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” The correct Raymond C. is Raymond Carver. Raymond Chandler, of course is the detective fiction writer responsible for classics like The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye. Had I read or seen either of these, I would likely know that he is not Raymond Carver.

Last week, I teased that I could share the (I thought) bulletproof pitch about DJ Khaled getting lost at sea at night on a jetski, and how he captured it all on Snapchat. Critics gushed, “This sounds interesting, but isn’t quite in line with the kinds of stories we cover at The Atlantic.”

And this week, wouldn’t you know it? I decided to go ahead and share it, along with some annotations because I’m embarrassed about a lot of it and if I point out that I know I made mistakes, I feel less bad about them.

Without further ado:

“The Key is To Not Panic” // Khaled Lost at Sea

Hi [Editor],

DJ Khaled, the producer and people-connector behind hits such as "All I Do Is Win," "We Takin' Over," and "I'm On One," has become a snapchat legend of late. 

His snap stories are a tranquil loop of time spent watering the plants he is very proud of, lounging in his jacuzzi, and giving inspirational speeches about wellness and breakfast in snippets that are ten or less seconds each1.

Recently, his presence has approached critical mass. Justin Bieber quoted one of Khaled's many self-affirmations2 "They don't want you to drive a 'rari" to TMZ. But the biggest development was this week's Khaled snap run that is being dubbed Khaled Lost at Sea.

The short version is that Khaled got lost and stranded in the dark while jet skiing home from Rick Ross' house, and even under duress, continued to drop his adages about the keys to success and "jus' knowing." But this version relegates it to just another example of silly Khaled men-worthiness3

The version that does justice to Khaled Lost at Sea calls it what it truly is: one of the greatest pieces of Snapchat storytelling we've ever seen. Most of the coverage of KLAS begins when he is already on the jet ski, leaving Rick Ross' house. But that's like starting The Bridge Over The River Kwai4 when the bridge explodes. You get to see the action, but miss the set up and the emotional investment entirely. 

For instance, Khaled starts almost every day watering his plants, spouting inspirational self-affirmations. Yesterday's first snap was, "The key is to not panic." 

He says things like that every day, but yesterday, he was put through the crucible of Khaled Lost at Sea, and the man practiced what he preached. His words carry weight.5

And we also see him change over the course KLAS. Khaled spends the entire day "smh-ing" at the maritime law officers patrolling Biscayne Bay, and then in his lowest moment, what is he worried about? 

"The key is to not drive your jet ski at night. This is against the law and not even just that..." 

The law. We see a man who just hours ago was scoffing at the powers that be, but in hos6 lowest moment, being forced to finally admit that, while certainly flawed, these laws and the people who enforce them are there for a reason.7

I would like to explore the arcs and themes and, most importantly, the journeys, that make Khaled Lost at Sea less snap story and more Story story. I recorded his entire story from that day in order to make a snap-by-snap analysis possible

Please let me know if you have any questions, and I hope that, even if this was a wildly off base pitch, it gave you something to think about.


Now, I don’t share this just because I didn’t know exactly what to write about tonight. That’s part of it, sure. But I also think it’s the most well-preserved attempt at explaining my obsession while I was still in the height of it.

My feelings about Snapchat and social media have changed a ton since then (it should be deleted, we should be off of it), buuut I still think this was one of the most thrilling things that ever happened on the platform.

My awareness of “good news judgment” has evolved enough that I can see the (myriad) flaws in my pitch, but I still think there was something interesting that could have been written about it. Then again, maybe I just wanted people to have seen it because I thought it was great and I wanted to talk to them.

Ah! Here we are! A point! I’ve just thought of it! When I’m obsessed, when we’re obsessed, do we want to be the expert on the thing we’re obsessed about? The #1 fan? Or are we aiming for a world where everyone is as obsessed with the thing as we are? An egalitarian Khaledtopia.

Maybe that’s where obsession goes sour: anyone truly obsessed wants both of those eventualities, yet they’re in direct conflict.

Okay, woof dogs, I think that’s a pretty good note to leave on. Let’s hit some recs.


Mare of Easttown. Television. I’m not the biggest detective-solves-a-murder-mystery-show fan and I don’t really need more shows about cops, but there was a real undercover zaniness to this show that I appreciated. It’s almost like Stath Lets Flats X SVU. I would tell you some of my favorite moments, but there are many spoilers.

Detroit 2. Album. I love this Big Sean album. Just listened to it again.

Are We Sure It’s Luck? Instagram Video. This weird inspirational video of Lebron James celebrating Drake being named Billboard’s artist of the decade is weird and inspirational.

Okay, friends! Have a wonderful week.




This whole paragraph is phrased pretty awkwardly. But as I said last year, I just appreciate that 26-year old Julian is going for it.


Pretty sure I needed a comma here.


Almost certain this was supposed to be meme-worthiness. Huge spelling error. What was I thinking, that I was writing a Sternal Journal?


As stated last week, this is not quite the name of that movie.


Prior two paragraphs are pretty great to me. I remember coming up with this and thinking it was genius!


“hos.” Supposed to be “his.” But I wrote the plural of “ho.” I actually remember an editor at the magazine I worked at in my early 20s telling me not to worry about spelling because “the copy editors catch that” and to this day, I wonder if that’s a real thing in magazines or he was just a really bad speller and trying to spread his bad spelling around so he was less noticeable.


I had been mainlining Harmon Circles around this time. Can you tell?


I really did this, but I can’t find the video now. This video by a YouTube user YoungJizzle has most of the day recorded! (three and a half minute watch)