The Here and Now

Earlier this week I got a little frazzled. Some work stuff, some personal stuff, some time management stuff, the usual.

I was getting another cup of coffee downstairs, ready to bound back to my computer and tackle everything, as usual.

But I stopped. And opened up the Headspace app.

I’ve been using that app for months now, to fall asleep. I’ve done a few of the basic meditation sessions. I’ve done them enough to like, “get it.” In a very rookie sort of sense.

I get it in the sense that when I’m tense, or anxious, or worried, there is no tiger leaping at my face. There are no men in suits at the door to take me away. I’m not in trouble, or in any danger.

Meditation has taught me that feelings and emotions aren’t me. I can feel them, but they’re not who I am at the moment. In the present moment I am me, and that’s it. Nothing else.

I’m no meditation expert by any stretch, and I hate that I need to remind anyone about that, but I know a little bit more today than I did six months ago.

Being Broke Sucks

A friend recently took a considerable paycut. Scary in itself, but many times scarier when you’ve got multiple mouths to feed, a mortgage, and car payments. It sucks.

And this friend is a dude pal of mine. Dudes, who are conditioned for years to be the “breadwinners,” the “head of households.” The “provider.” These are 50s era hold-overs, right? From a time when a single paycheck could provide a good life and college was $400.

This friend has taken a hit both in the wallet, and mentally. We’ve been talking quite a bit, but finally got to the source. It’s the money part. It’s making less, not providing “enough,” or as before.

I know this goes for both sexes (especially with women making less than men right out of the gate), but trying our best to not tie our self worth to our bank accounts is god damn hard work.

Without money in the bank, without “spending money,” it’s harder to meet up with friends for dinner, travel for weddings, and about a million other social things.

I know, because I’ve been piss broke the last few years. When the subject came up of that cool new show on Netflix, which at the time cost just $8/mo, I changed the subject; “oh, I just don’t watch a lot of TV” I’d say, which was a way for me to avoid, “oh, I can’t afford that.”

Money can’t buy happiness, sure. There’s a lot of miserable rich people out there. But money buys you choices, and affords you dignity, which is damn near priceless.

Start a Band

Okay, maybe don’t start a band. But you should really start a band.

What I mean is this; in the early 90s, when I was in high school, I joined a band. Back up, in the mid 80s and beyond I loved hair metal. I bought Poison’s ‘Open Up and Say Ahhh’ at a drug store. On vinyl.

By the time I was in high school, I was a rocker. Or at least I wanted to be. I wore the shirts, had the mullet, I was a would be rocker. I signalled to other would be rockers that I, indeed, did wanted to rock.

So I got to join a band!

That was 27 years ago, and that course I set back then because I loved the ‘Paradise City’ video by Guns N’ Roses is why I do what I do today (helping busy music publicists).

So why should you start a band today? Well, you don’t need to really start a band, but you should start something.

See, back then we didn’t have the internet. To find other weirdos we had to rent fire-halls, or drive two hours away with printed out MapQuest directions to see a show that I’m not even sure how we knew about.

But these days, with the internet, with the super computer in our pockets, we can connect with all sorts of weirdos from all over the world. From there we can “form a band,” and do all sorts of fun stuff.

We can start websites, movements, services, gigs, and all sorts of things.

But we do that by finding our fellow weirdos through intentional actions. Just like I used to practice my bass everyday, you need to practice your craft everyday out in the open. Posting your progress, your finished products, your incomplete drafts, and some of your normal day to day drudgery.

Like I said, this is easy compared to driving into New Jersey on a Friday night in the rain without a smartphone.

So form your band, find your weirdos, and do great stuff.

Grief Comes when it Comes

Grief strikes at the oddest times, I swear. Holidays and birthdays are fine, but I recently saw some guys out with their moms for lunch, or coffee, and that just destroys me.

Those moments when mom would ask me about an old friend, or a job, or a place I visited, those are gone now. She cared, and noticed, in a way that’s different than anyone else.

Knowing I’ll never get to have a coffee date with my mom, ever again, is tough. It doesn’t seem fair, but that’s life.

Audience of One

Your “audience” starts with you. Make the thing you wanna see first. In my latest episode of LATER, I talk about how your creative endeavors need to satisfy that audience of one; YOU. No clicks, or likes, or whatever. But you have to be stoked when doing it.

I did Skull Toaster for seven years and quit it because it wasn’t serving the audience of one anymore. Never-mind that it built up a $200/mo Patreon / Memberful support network, or that 30+ people a day replied to metal trivia, and a solid nightly email newsletter that I produced and sent every night.

Wasn’t enough. The audience of one – me – wasn’t loving it anymore. Shut it down.

But also, life and work and relationships and all that – guess what? You’re still the audience, and last I checked you get to walk out of bad movies.

That doesn’t mean you just tell your boss off, or leave your family, or burn down the farm. No, it was tiny decisions made over decades that landed us where we are. Now it takes a series of tiny decisions over the next decade or two to course correct.

It’s not black and white. It doesn’t go from misery to utopia in a day.

Seek to entertain that audience of one in all that you do.

What is Later?

There’s been a few words that have stuck with me over the years.

One time, during an interview with Jason Hamacher of Frodus, Lost Origins with my pal Travis on his As The Story Grows podcast in 2016 (here), we got around to when I met Jason, years ago when I lived in NYC, at some vegetarian place.

“Yeah, you were with your girlfriend, or wife…”

“Well, ex-wife now,” I replied.

Jason replied, “later.”

His delivery was perfect, as only Hamacher could get away with.

Another word that’s stuck is, “why?”

I had just been rejected for another job that I thought for sure I was a good fit. My friend was with me, and asked me what I was going to do next.

“Send out more resumes, I guess,” I replied.

“Why? It doesn’t seem to be working.”

Pretty sure that was in 2016, too. Last two resumes I sent were in late 2017 (didn’t get those either), but I haven’t sent one since. He was right. I hunkered down on my own business (Close Mondays) in 2018 and haven’t looked back.

Later. Moving on, moving forward.

Why? An honest question. Stop doing what’s not working.

Later is now the name of my video / audio series. For more info, click here.

Nothing is New

Ramping up my video / audio production means facing some fears. Like, there’s already Andrew W.K., the beacon of motivation and party vibes. Who am I in comparison?

Gary Vee pushes and prods, surely I don’t have anything to add.

Seth Godin, who I’ve been following devoutly since the early 2000s, has a blog, and multiple books filled with ideas, inspiration, and hard truths.

Why should I even bother?

But in the music world, do we need anything beyond Radiohead? Pearl Jam? Dillinger Escape Plan? Converge? Don’t we have all the music we need?

Not by a long shot.

If we stop, completely content with what’s avaibale, we don’t grow. We need to push, and pull, and remix. Copies of copies. Over and over again, we do this, and the world is a better place for it.

So don’t worry that you’re work isn’t breaking new ground. Your work is coming from your perspective, and that’s what makes it fresh, because you’re unique, and that’s more that enough.

To note: this video was done in one take. No edits. This blog post was done in one take. No time to bake. No edits (except for spelling and such). No second guessing. This is my continuing exercise in producing rather than procrastinating.  Done, versus perfect.

Call Yourself an Artist

Yes, yes, a million times yes.

You can be a writer and not have a published book. You can be a song writer and not have an album.

There’s no requirement to beat end-level bosses and clear chronological checkpoints to be anything.

Sure, having published by-lines and music on Bandcamp helps you get to other levels down the road, but again, they are not required check boxes on your creative journey.

Facing Loss

With the recent news of Alex Trebek being diagnosed with cancer, I saw a lot of people sharing their love for the amazing Jeopardy host.

It reminded me of losing Carrie Fisher (December 27, 2016), which really rattled me. I’m a child of the 80s, so that one hit home. I remember where I was – my favorite hometown coffee shop, sitting at the window.

The last time I cried over a “celebrity” was when I heard Kurt Cobain died, on April 5, 1994. I was sitting in my Mercury Zephyr when my girl friend at the time told me. I was heart broken.

Now in the age of social media we pour our hearts nearly everyday for people that are important in our lives, and sometimes it’s hard to keep up. Dying is a part of life, after all. It doesn’t wait for anyone.

I lost my mom in the summer of 2017. She as diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but it was the COPD that took her life way too early.

Each day I remember her when I talk to her. When I see a gorgeous sunset, which was one of the few joys she got in the last few years of her life. I think that’s how we honor those we lose. We carry on their attitude, their spirit, their mission. That’s what I try to do each day.

Different Costs in Different Cities

My friend from NYC drove to PA today for a tattoo. I only have one tattoo, so I don’t know all that much about the economics of getting work done, but she told me how much more affordable it was to get work done in a smaller city.

Sure, they have to pay for a rental car, and gas, but those things lead to other things – like dinner with her friend! Win win!

It’s fun to think of costs related to geographic locations. Rents are cheaper in smaller cities, which can change how we think about incomes.