This last Saturday we started production on the first music video from Toothpick - the song Don't Tread On Me (the photo above was taken on set). Next day of shooting is tomorrow. And real quick, man, I just want to say thank you to everyone who is listening to this album, to whoever is sharing it, to whoever is making it a part of their lives - really, thank you. The song Hurricane climbed to #2 on Spotify's Viral Global and US charts. Don't Tread On Me made it to #13 on the front page of Hype Machine. And I don't share that with you to brag, at all; I know I have a ways to go. I'm just grateful. I feel like any success achieved by any song or album has less to do with me, and is more a gift from you, the listener. With every play, with every share, you're voting for which artists will or will not end up doing this for a living. So, to you, whoever is reading this, thanks for listening. James The Bear and I are already deep into my next album, and I hope you love this one just as much as the last.
This is the final single. The full album, Toothpick, will drop next Tuesday, April 12th, 8PM, right here.
Tuesday night. Bones. The fourth and final single.
On Tuesday night I'm releasing the third single from my upcoming album. Hurricane.
Tuesday night I'm releasing the second single from Toothpick. The song's called The Business, featuring Keak Da Sneak and Roach Gigz.
Tuesday night I'll be releasing the first single from my upcoming album. The song is called Friction.
For everyone checking in for a new blog post tonight, I apologize, I have nothing for you. Though I'd love to have the time to write something new for you every Sunday, I, simply, do not; and I don't ever want to give you something that I haven't had time to perfect. I'll continue to make entries, they just won't be victim to schedule.
Every song on the album has been recorded. I'm halfway through the final draft of my book. We're getting there. Have an incredible week.
Goodnight, and good luck.
Just a few minutes ago I finished watching the movie Adaptation written by Charlie Kaufman, one of my favorite films; it’s caused me to feel self-reflective, so if you don’t want to wade in a pool of existentialism then I recommend you stop reading this now and, instead, play croquet or draw sloths on a napkin or whatever else you feel like doing.
The movie got me thinking about memory, and how we forget most of our lives. What did you do three months ago on Tuesday, March 10th? Do you remember? I’d assume not. What were you thinking about last Wednesday at 2:15? You, again, probably don’t remember. You probably remember a couple of moments from a few conversations, maybe you remember generally how you felt, you have a few snapshots, but, the texture belonging to the day-to-day minutia has been let go of; you have some broad strokes, but you don’t remember the entire painting. And since most of life consists of minutia, of small decisions and experiences between big memorable events, most of your life isn’t remembered. Once something is experienced, time pushes you forward, and like time itself is armed with a big pink eraser, it starts to rub away all of your small moments, like we’re Indiana Jones, running across an old decrepit bridge, and as we lift each foot to take another step, the bridge crumbles behind us. Experiences, it seems, are mostly borrowed; reduced to nothing; inevitably eroded by ticking clocks and crawling sundials; and if life is celebrated as a conglomeration of experiences, a tapestry of cherished memory, but most of those experiences are forgotten, and most of those memories dissolve, then this view of a rich life being one filled with unique experiences is baseless. Some people, in their old age, completely forget their lives. They no longer can pull meaning from past experiences because they don’t remember any. Some people are disabled, paralyzed, or otherwise impaired so have very limited life experiences. So, are these lives, then, without value?
I don’t think so. I don’t think the point of life is to collect experiences like they’re trading-cards and display them in photographs and post them like trophies for everyone to see. If memory was so important, our minds would do a better job of keeping them around. And, I’m aware, this point that I’m about to make is tired, but I think, rather, life is more about how you feel right now. Your current attitude, world-view, disposition, character traits – these combine to form the sculpture that is your soul, and it is our job to do the sculpting. The goal shouldn't be to merely collect experiences, because most will be forgotten, but, instead, to become the best version of ourselves, in the present moment, regardless of what we are experiencing. To be, even in prison, even without vacations and new cars and unique or expensive meals, satisfied; to be content; to be peaceful – that, to me, is the goal. I view that person who, at the end of his or her life, who has developed an unwavering satisfaction with his or her existence, I view them as having won. There are so many messages spewed about the importance of diverse life experiences, but, there are many who cannot afford to experience much – and I believe they have the same shot at happiness as anyone else, because that isn't the route to fulfillment. Fulfillment is something curated in the mind, in the present moment, a process of sharpening ones perspective, so that we can, eventually, be absolutely satisfied with anything life throws at us. In the end, if there were to be some kind of divine judgment on our success or failure in life as a whole – I think it would be based on who we became, the person that we carved from whatever we were given, how we, in the end, decided to view the world and our place in it.
The man on the mountaintop is overwhelmed with the beauty of existence; but the man who feels the same, and who has lived a very small life - his accomplishment, to me, is incomparably profound. And about the old man or woman who has forgotten everything, but still decides to smile, who has manifested a relentless, unreasonable, illogical joy – they are as close to perfect as we can get, I think. Even when facing the abyss, they are satisfied. Without reason, they are satisfied.
Anyway. I don't have time to edit this thing as much as I'd like. We're going out for my dad's birthday dinner right now, and I have to go. But, I just hope, whoever you are, whatever your life circumstances may be, I hope you know that you can be happy, you can be satisfied.
Goodnight. And good luck.
In a comment below, answer this [I love hearing from you]: Do you compare your life experiences to others'? Are you satisfied with your life? Why? Why not?
If you missed last week's blog. Read it here.
Here we go. This is going to be another tough week for me - as far as writing this blog is concerned. I just got out of the car. My family and I just drove six hours from Oregon. I went to my cousin’s wedding. So, instead of trying to extract some kind of life lesson from my experiences, I’m just going to tell you an unrelated story. Maybe there will be something that can be extracted, I don’t know.
When I was younger, I used to drink a lot, too much. My family's history is littered with alcoholics. I started down that road early. I had my first drink when I was 14, and when I was caught for it, and subsequently grounded, I would drink in the living room once my parents went to sleep. Couple years go by and I’m going to parties as often as I can. At first, when my friends and I were 16, it was friends’ houses; their parents were on vacation, their older brother got a place, whatever. But when we got older, when those friends moved off to college, our parties’ venues took a strange turn. The house would be owned by a shadowy roommate, someone would break into a foreclosed home, we’d find an alley somewhere - stuff like that. One of those places was a house right down the street from my parents’ place. I’d walk there, meet up with my friends, drink until I couldn’t recognize myself in the mirror, then go home. The man who owned the house was about ten years older than us. He’d take us to Safeway. He’d tell us to fill up the cart with whatever alcohol we wanted. He was a military guy, and I knew his behavior was odd, but, hey, free alcohol. He was a big guy, 6’ 4”, 240 lbs. He’d socialize here and there, but, overall, he was pretty soft-spoken.
One day. He was more quiet than usual. He bought us more alcohol than he ever had before, then went straight to his room when we got back from Safeway. His brother was there – and his brother wasn’t ever there. Something felt different. I heard rumors at the party. Someone told me that his ex-wife had coached his daughter to tell the police that he had molested her, so he’d never be able to see her again. There was this feeling I had, like we were in the eye of a hurricane. I was in the living room. Drinking. I hated the taste of alcohol, but I loved how it made me feel. It was a Budweiser, I think. I was wasted. Then I saw the guy’s brother backing out from the hall that lead to the master bedroom. His palms were up. He was smaller. His hair ran to his shoulders. Then the big guy came out. His fists were tight, hunched shoulders. His eyes were dead. His brother was saying something, trying to convince him of something, pleading, I don’t remember exactly what. Then the big guy threw his fist into his brother’s face. Once, then twice. I remember the brother's voice. He was a grown man, but in that moment, he sounded like he was thirteen. His voice cracked; he sounded so desperate, like he had no idea why this was happening. The big guy threw him against the wall. The brother broke through the sheetrock. I remember the sound of the guy’s fist hitting his brother’s face, that wet sound of flesh to flesh, and the blood pouring from his brow, it was so dark, and how, before each punch, the brother would lift his hands to try to stop him, but he just couldn’t. The fists would just slip through his hands. Then the guy, the homeowner, stopped on his own. He started crying. The neighbors had heard the brother screaming, so the cops came. They lined us up out front, on the curb. I remember looking to my friends, and instead of us worrying about the guy, it was more like, “Man, I guess we’ll have to find somewhere else to go. Text some people.” Ugly, I know
Is there something to take from that story? I’m not sure. Maybe not. Like I said, I’m not in a space to comb through it and find something. I have this vision, though, now that I’m at the end of this. People have storms in ‘em. Hurricanes. Maybe that’s the point. I feel like people don’t share their problems until its too late. They’ve got these black clouds in their minds, and they’re hoping someone will hear the thunder, and when no one does, the storm bleeds out in other ways.
I know that was dark, but life can be dark. You can’t ignore that. You’ve got to look at it. You’ve got to face that stuff. Or else it grows, turns into a monster. Don’t let that happen. Talk to someone. Whatever you have in your mind, share it, even if its embarrassing; that's so vital.
Anyway. Listen to people, and find someone you can trust to do the same for you. Goodnight and good luck.
Do you have anything you’d like to share with me? A story you haven’t told many people? Something you saw? Something you’ve felt? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.
If you missed last week’s blog, read it here.
People ask me, sometimes, how I keep going. I’ve never had a big break. I have waded in obscurity, as a musician, essentially, forever. I’ve locked myself away to work on sounds that I hoped would somehow change the world. And with each day and each month spent on that music, my hope would grow; I’d become so sure that whatever project I was involved with would bring me to a broader audience, I could so vividly imagine it – that I felt as though I was almost there. Then I would release the project, and find that those feelings were mirages, stuff of my imagination. The music just wouldn’t grab on like I’d hoped; then, subsequently, I’d make the plunge into disappointment. I’d question myself as a creator, as a musician, as a writer, as a human being. I’d feel like a fraud. I’d stare at the ceiling and wonder why I spent so much time on something that gave me so little. Then a week or so would pass, and the cycle would begin again; the fire of hope would start to fester. And like this, a metronome, for years, I have been rocking back and forth between hope and discouragement, between chasing the dream and hating it. And that is the plight of the artist who reaches for success. It is an exhausting emotional rollercoaster. It is a torturous and constant plucking and tearing of the heartstrings. It is chasing shadows in a dark room with a blindfold and a stick. And sometimes, here and there, someone will grab me by the shoulder and ask and say, “Why are you doing this? You don’t have to do this anymore.”
And to them, I always say – yes – yes, in fact, I do. There is an uncontrollable firestorm of want that is always churning within me; a want for success, a want for a larger audience, a want to affect more people, a want for a life earned by and lived through creativity, and, of course, a want to, simply, create. It is a disease of dissatisfaction; a drive that is more compulsive than noble. So when someone asks how I keep going, an image is brought to mind of a man tied to a raging bull by his ankle, and how funny it would be to ask him, the dragging man, the same question.
Ambition can be such an ugly thing, I know, and want can be such an ugly thing. But, I believe, if you aim them in the right direction, they could reach, together, immeasurable heights and solve and achieve the impossible. So, if you are, too, being dragged by that bull of ambition - be thankful. Some people are tied to stones and swaying on the bottom of an ocean of indifference, in a stasis of lethargy, dreading the boredom of their tomorrows, and regretting the sameness of their yesterdays.
If you have a fire within you, stoke it. And if you don’t have one, explore until you find your spark. Humans can be fantastically inventive, passionate things if only they find their right direction.
In a comment below, answer this: What are you passionate about? What dreams pull you through life? What sets your soul on fire?
If you missed last week's blog. Read it here.
I do not at all feel like writing this blog right now, but I have to. I would rather headbutt a unicorn, impale myself through the forehead, and flail wildly as it gallops across the universe and delivers rainbows to trolls or whatever it is that they do. Why? I’m tired. I don’t feel like slamming my forehead against these keys (that’s how I type) while at the same time try to find meaning in my own rambling. I would rather drown in a pool of melted starbursts while someone sitting at the edge of the pool reads the most recent draft of my novel and gives me his unsolicited opinion, “You should just stick with music! Unsubscribed!” And I’m all in there, sticky, and drowning, but I yell back, “That’s just like, you’re opinion, man!” And he yells back, “That’s the improper usage of you’re; it should be your!” And I’m like, “How can you tell!? We’re speaking!” And then he replies, “I just know! We’re actually inside of your blog! We don’t exist! We’re made up characters!” And then, as I die, inhaling that pink glop of strawberry flavored starburst, as I'm both enjoying its sweetness and choking to death, I realize that I am a fictional character within my own blog, and in that knowing I find peace, and I don’t die, I turn into a donut, and then I turn into a unicorn, and then I impale myself in the past.
I don’t know. It’s Sunday. I feel like lying back and eating forty-seven bowls of Peanut Butter M&Ms, but sometimes doing what you feel like doing isn't good for you. Sometimes you have to do what you don't want to do in order to get to where you want to go. It's discipline. And this writing, here, for me, is a practice of discipline. If I didn't do it, it'd carry over into tomorrow, and I'd be little lazier, cut a few more corners, and that'd bleed into my music, into my writing, into my other projects. Nothing is given to you. Everything is earned. On the road to success, for anyone, in any field, there are tasks that suck. Doing those sucky things makes you strong. So do 'em. Have willpower. Check yourself. Humans have lazy little bodies that want huge awards for minor successes. Rise above that.
Goodnight. And good luck.
In a comment below, answer this: Is there something you did last week that you didn't feel like doing, but you did anyway? Is there something coming up this week that you really don't feel like doing, but have to? Are you nervous? Scared? Or just being lazy? Let me know. Your lives are interesting. I loved your comments last time around.
I’m sitting inside of my parents’ house in Fairfield. It’s mother's day. I have a ‘soft corn’ between my pinky toe and the next because I tie my chucks too tight and walk a lot - it’s a sore, kind of like a blister. I woke up this last Tuesday to find that my left ear had started to bleed. This morning, my left eyelid was swollen. The older I get, the more it feels like my body isn’t mine. It’s a vehicle - a fleshy car. The paint oxidizes. The transmission goes. The power steering fluid leaks. The breaks squeal. And I can’t trade it in to buy another. I may be able to exchange a part or two here or there, but, the trend is most definitively downward until, unavoidably, I finally have to give it back. One day, your doctor tells you, “It’s cancer.” You sit there, in shock, because you figured you were immune somehow, like cancer was reserved for Grey’s Anatomy and daytime soaps. It was supposed to be a ‘did you hear about so-and-so’ thing and not a ‘how do I spend these next six months’ thing. And you walk away feeling like you’re in a dream, like your life is a movie, and you wish you could fire the writers, hire some new ones and tell them to rewrite the ending. But we can’t do that. Fate doesn’t seem to care too much for character arcs. Like a cold slap in the face from a Starbuck’s barista, death can come unexpected and without reason.
So, where am I going with this? I don’t know. I just bang these keys. Maybe I’m saying that life can end at any moment, so appreciate it. Maybe I’m telling you to appreciate your loved ones because they won’t be around forever. That sounds corny, yeah, I know. It’s tired. You can read this stuff on cereal boxes. But for some reason it doesn’t sink in for me. I forget. It’s so easy to shrug your shoulders at everything, to let every day bleed together until its this indiscernible mass of goop, until you’re stuck in one long Tuesday afternoon.
My sister just walked into the kitchen. I’m sitting here in the living room. She’s playing a song over her iPhone – ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’ by Ella Fitzgerald.
You feel those vibes? I’m pretty sure she’s about to make brownies. I can hear the birds singing outside. I’ve got to say, it’s pretty serene. I can’t complain. Life is good right now. I’m sure if you viewed whatever moment you’re in from the right angle, you could feel the same. Life is fascinating. Let it be fascinating. I respect positive people. They're balancing on a razor blade, when everyone is trying to push them off.
Anyway. Until next week. Live good. Really. It all ends in a blink. Happy Mother's Day. Goodnight, and good luck.
In a comment below, answer this: Where are you and what’s going on around you right now? I’ve let you peer into my life; I’d love to peer into yours. Because I’m weird. What’s the temperature? What can you smell? What colors can you see? Who are you with?
I want to keep these blogs as casual as possible, not overthought or calculated. I’d rather they be more like vomit than the sixteen martinis and cookie dough ice-cream cake that came before it, because there is something so honest about vomit; it automatically gives any onlooker a potentially embarrassing snapshot of ones life. All of the sudden, everyone at the party knows that I ate cheerios for dinner and may deduce that I’m single, and, from their perspective, maybe, I have yet to reach true adulthood which, possibly, in their opinion, should consist of pot pies and crock pots and wine and, ya know, anything that is anti Pop-Tart.
But, and I think I’ve stumbled upon a point here – I am firmly pro Pop-Tart. I’ve always resented the concept of maturity. These rules that, once we reach a certain age, we must adopt. “I don’t watch cartoons, I’m an adult.” – “I don’t eat gummy worms, I’m an adult.” – “I don’t wear Batman onsies and watch The Dark Knight trilogy with my sister every few months, I’m an adult.” – etc.
I dated someone who would often tell me that I was immature. She'd usually say it after I'd do some kind of impression where I’d change my voice, or I’d willingly make myself look stupid, anything uppity and animated, anything silly. And that’s when I realized that maturity, to her, was ones ability to maintain a disposition of unaffectedness and calm. If you laugh too loud and for too long, you’re acting like child. If you make an inappropriate joke, you’re acting like a child. If you do anything colorful, you're acting like a child. And I thought to myself, what sort of prison has our culture constructed for our future selves? Why can’t we give in, completely, and publicly, to those nearly frowned upon fringes of the human experience – hilarity, passion, lightheartedness and the like. It’s as if, when we grow old, we are given the weight of the world, and if we aren’t dragging our feet then we aren’t properly participating in the human experience. It’s like we begin as helium balloons, as these constantly giggling morons, as babies, and then we grow old and we turn into bags of bricks - stale, heavy and immovable.
There’s this great quote from Ursula K. Le Guin – “The creative adult is the child who has survived.” And I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, because, it sometimes feels like my creativity is being accosted by the demands of our culture. I find myself embarrassed to share with people that I make music, like an early teen might be embarrassed to be found playing with his old action figures. And, I here declare, this writing is my defending myself. I don’t want to become a bag of bricks. I’d rather be a balloon. But sometimes it feels like my feet are turning a rusty red, and societal expectations are their mortar, doing their best to hold me still.
Here is video of a baby laughing uncontrollably at the sight of seeds being blown from a dandelion. If being immature is being like a child, then sign me up.
And that’s it this week, just some rambling. About my projects – only a couple more songs left on the album, and I edited about 30 pages of my book today; it's my final read through.
I’ll be back next Sunday at 8PM. Until then. Protect your silliness. Don't be scared to be lighthearted. Cool kids become adults. And cool kids are fuckin' stupid.
Goodnight, and good luck.