Archive for July, 2009

I Got Hit by a Taxi

July 27, 2009

Walking to a gig on Friday in the northern part of SOMA, I was hit by a taxi. I was legally passing through a crosswalk, and saw the taxi taking a left turn towards me. I waved at him because he wasn’t slowing down, and as he turned right into me, I jumped on the hood and he finally came to a stop. As I hopped off the hood, I could see the guy was stll text-messaging someone! He started accelerating slowly again, and said, “I’m so sorry”. All I could thing to reply with was, “Fuck you!” and let him drive off.
A friend of mine told me I could have reported the accident and gotten a settlement. I wasn’t injured, so I figured I would let it go, but it did make me wonder if I should have taken advantage of the system. At the end of the day, I decided that I did the right thing. I just wish people would stop text-messaging and talking on their phones while driving. It’s an asshole thing to do, even though I’ve done it myself and I’m sure everyone else has, too. Just food for thought.

Making Plans for the Future – Waste of Time, or Pain in the Ass?

July 24, 2009
Life is a Carnival, not a Game

Life is a Carnival, not a Game

I am a horrible procrastinator. Have been since college. Prior to that I would take care of my responsibilities ahead of time because they were pretty much effortless. I never really had problems in high school, I guess. It was a game and I was good at it. College, on the other hand, required the best of my intellectual efforts and I never really felt like I adapted to the stuffy world of academia. Trying to figure out what a professor wanted instead of following my own muse created the pressure to perform against my will. So I waited it out until inspiration struck.

Usually that would be the night before something was due, and usually it was impossibly too late to try to finish anything. I remember staying up for as long as three days without any sleep just to finish all my papers and finals. In the end, it always magically got done just at the last second, and I survived to fight another day. I always felt that all of this was a waste of time, not realizing that these experiences would prepare me for the waste of time that is the Real World. As does college, the Real World forces you to do things you hate and don’t understand (i.e. work), unless you are fortunate enough to have your dream job, which very few of us will ever have (hence the word ‘dream’). Even then, you may find yourself forced to do things you hate doing. I think the definition of job should be:  “Something you don’t want to do but have to do for the sake of survival.”

Now that I am a participant in the Real World and tackle jobs instead of homework assignments, I find that planning for tomorrow is not a game. There has been a time in my adult life where I have procrastinated on advancing, refusing to get a job, living with my parents, and collecting unemployment (this is known as my Jane Pauley Era). Nowadays I have a job, apartment, and a musical career to look after. My musical career is the most difficult aspect of my life to maintain. Yet it is by far the most rewarding, and without it I would feel out of place in the world. I’ve never been very ambitious when it comes to having financial stability and career goals. My current employment as a part-time office assistant suits me just fine for now. But when it comes to following my passion, which is writing, recording and performing music, there will always be an inherent risk involved.

That’s right, I thought it. Now I’ll say it out loud:  “This might not work out. Ever.” I’ve invested tens of thousands of dollars into music projects so far, and frankly, none of them have been successful. That doesn’t mean they weren’t good (most weren’t), but finding a way to make money off of music is like trying to squeeze water out of a rock. In the world of music, those who bullshit for long enough to fool the serpent actually make it to the top, while the rest give up or become casualties. Still there are those who persevere on, despite being old and unknown (and terribly pathetic, too). This latter type rarely ever sees any reward for their hard work, but because they do what it for the love of music, there is no actual failure because the act of doing is it’s own reward.

Now I’m finally getting to my point. I spent years in school, learning how to play ‘the game’ first, then learning how not to play that game, and currently I’m in a state of contemplation, wondering if life has to be played by the same rules as ‘the game’. Planning for the future by learning to adapt to a set of rules (i.e. school, work, society) is something that a lot of people do at my age. And every financial adviser will recommend that you look ahead and invest in you future. My mother probably wishes I had a plan, but I don’t. I’ve found that every time I make plans for the future, I end of subterfuging myself and purposely procrastinating, perhaps because my subconscious is guiding me away from making a huge mistake. Or maybe it’s because I know that making plans is a good way to ensure that they will never happen.

How many people do you know, including yourself, have made plans, whether it is taking on a certain career path like being a lawyer or doctor, or getting married to your first sweetheart, only to find out that it wouldn’t work? And what did all that planning lead to in the end? Arguably, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and no experience is not worth having, but I would retort that you could have been enjoying and learning about what you really wanted to do instead of wasting your time on things you secretly know aren’t right for you.

Granted, there are many people out there that don’t know what they want, or find it impossible to even begin to do the things they want. Usually their excuse is based on their plan. For instance, I have a good friend (we’ll call him Joe)who works 80 hours a day running a successful business because he has a ‘plan’ to be the greatest at what he does in his line of work. At the same time, he’s often told me of his dream to leave the country and travel for a long time. When I ask him why he doesn’t just leave now, he explains that there is too much work and the business couldn’t carry on without him. Because he has to adhere to working to make his plan work out, Joe never gets to do what he really wants to do. Consider an alternate reality where he went to Costa Rica and lived on the beach and surfed every day. From this perspective, Joe could conceivably discover what is really important to him in life and have a realization that leads him to a more liveable path in his life. Instead, he sticks to his ‘plan’ because either he’s afraid to do anything else, or doesn’t want his precious work to go unrewarded. What kind of life is that, you ask? Well, it’s the life of many people who are stuck in a mode of thinking.

With this microcosmic example, I ask you to consider the bigger picture now. We currently live in a highly unstable world. Not since the Cuban Missile Crisis has there been such a threat of nuclear war on our planet. Economies all over the world are faltering and the largest superpower, our good ol’ USA, is at a true low-point economically. There is no universal health care coverage and unemployment rates are skyrocketing. Huge companies like GM and Mervyn’s are collapsing without other viable economic powers to take their place. People are losing their life savings and 401K plans in the stock market fallout. Many who planned and saved for years to buy their ‘dream house’ are now forced to foreclose. Meanwhile, China and India’s governments are completely disregarding their environmental responsibilities for the sake of economic growth, consuming oil in quantities that will decimate reserves more rapidly than necessary, and exploit some of the most impoverished humans on the planet. What is going to happen next? I sure don’t know, and as much as people try to speculate, there is no reassurance of anything ever. Period.

What does this mean to us as individuals? We all must continue to dream and have goals. In order to accomplish those dreams and goals we are always told we must have a plan. But if you have learned anything from watching dieting commercials, you know that a plan is just an excuse so you don’t have to think for yourself and adapt based on your intelligence and awareness of what’s going on around you. So if you have created ‘the plan’ for yourself, consider reevaluating your situation and coming up with a strategy instead. A strategy is as good as a plan because it guides you towards your goal, but it doesn’t define any laws or rules which allow you to stop taking personal responsibility for your actions. Be willing to change and adapt at any moment, and quit doing things that don’t benefit you. Always do what you want to do, or at least work towards trying to do the things in life you aspire to as soon as possible before it’s too late. Use your strategy to figure out how to live without harming your financial and emotional stability, and forget about tomorrow. Only dream about tomorrow when you are living your life as you should today. It is only from this perspective that you can gain the knowledge you seek.

The Wounded Hawk

July 17, 2009
The majestic Red-Tailed Hawk

The Majestic Red-Tailed Hawk

I was walking down Kearny St. in downtown SF yesterday running an errand, when all of a sudden I looked up to see a wounded red-tailed hawk falling from the sky, into the middle of traffic on Pine St. between Kearny and Montgomery. Needless to say this is not your everyday occurrence, so I stuck around to make sure the bird was alright. Below is a retelling of the story to a friend which pretty much explains it all:

Me: You’re not going to believe what just happened
You: Ha, this sounds good
Did you meet an alien?
Me: No, I was walking down and the street and huge hawk fell from the sky
it landed in the middle of the street, and I went to move it, but it had huge talons and a sharp beak!
It’s wings were sprawled out and they were about the same span as my arms
You: wow
Wait, when you say it fell…did it like fall down dead, or did it land?
Me: It was badly injured. It’s eyes were cloudy and it was twitching and writhing a little bit. It kept sticking it’s head straight up in the sky and opening it’s mouth.
At first it was pretty still, so we blocked traffic and I called animal control
You: awww, poor thing
Me: It finally got up and flew into the front window of a McDonald’s and laid there for a while. A couple of homeless guys were staring at it when I walked up.
Some idiot was walking down the street and didn’t even notice it, and almost stepped on it!
You: That’s awful
Are they going to be able to help it?
Me: Well, after the guy almost stepped on it, the hawk got up and ran a little bit, screamed, and went blindly flying into the busiest street in downtown (Montgomery)
It finally ran straight into a building and fell about four stories into an alcove
A cop finally showed up, and she took one look at it and decided she wasn’t gong to touch it. There was a coffee shop next door and I warned all the customers/employees not to go outside and disturb the bird. I had to leave as soon as Animal Control pulled up to get back to work.
You: Cool,  I’m glad animal control got there before it like got hit by a bus or something
You: Hopefully they can help it
Me: Well, I think a bullet to the head would be the best thing – but who knows, maybe a blind bird can live a healthy, productive life
You: Oh, so he’s blind…i missed that part
Me: Well, I’m not sure, but the whole cloudy eyes and flying into walls kind of made me think he was.

The after-effects of seeing such a beautiful and majestic animal in the middle of downtown (of all places) was quite profound, as you can imagine. I’m taking this as a sign to pursue the spirit of the hawk because it is wounded and blind within me. Even if that’s not what I’m supposed to get from all of this, I think the hawk’s intervention into my life at least warrants some sort of deeper questioning of myself. I feel a connection with this creature, and I wanted to stay longer and make sure it was ok. From what I could gather things were not going to be ok for this hawk and it would have simply been for my own amusement and curiosity that I stayed and watched. By calling animal control and following the bird until they showed up I felt my usefullness had reached it’s end. Plus, I just think it wanted to be left alone to die in peace, I hope the hawk found that or is at least recovering.

MySpace = Death, and Other Ruminations

July 14, 2009

Happen, damnit!

Happen, damnit!

I never get to just write for fun anymore, but since I’m faced with the overwhelming task of booking, and since I am a veteran procrastinator, I figure’d I’d give my two-cents about a few things for all of you who use my website as your own form of masterful procrastination (try saying that 10 times fast – it will use up at least one minute of your time if you do).

First off, what’s up with MySpace? I’ve been using it as a great networking tool for years, and lately it’s become so dead that I find myself not even checking my messages any more. Time was, a man could go onto MySpace, attract new people that would listen to your music and make comments on whether they liked it or not. Nowadays it’s more like the last day of a huge garage sale. Nothing is left but the fodder of fake hot-chick profiles, horrible bands that never were, insecure underage girls battling publicly, and that same old guy who posts about a hundred snooze-inducing bulletins every hour with subjects like, “277 Things That Suck”. It feels dated just being on the website, and I’m currently in the process of switching over music promotion efforts to Facebook. Because the creators of this site have made it virtually impossible to figure out how to do anything, it’s discouraged most bands from attempting to used it for the purposes of shameless, irresponsible promotion. After wandering aimlessly throughout the faq’s for several hours, I was finally able to figure out how to create a page and post things to people that I know. The sheer networking capabilities of Facebook are effective, and finding people that won’t hate you is so intuitive that it naturally lends itself to targeted promotion that isn’t unwanted (unlike MySpace’s constant barrage of band requests). Now if I could only figure out how to use twitter and not feel ridiculous…

That being said, MySpace is still a great place to contact local bands across the Americas, troll for Russian brides, and post pictures of you and your drunken friends behaving like idiots for the world to see.

In other news, I would like to let people know that Summer is not that great! I mean, when you’re 14 and you get to miss school and go on vacations with your friends’ families it’s great, but for those of us who have to work in the miserable heat it’s truly a drag. Every time I play a show lately it feels as if I’m going to pass out, and I have to change my shirt multiple times in a day. There are more flies and you don’t feel like doing anything after the excitement of the first few weeks has kicked in. Eventually, and especially if you are in the more tropical climates, you resort to spending entire days in an air-conditioned environment, methodically drinking Kool-Aid and eating frozen food. But I must digress, because even though I’m giving Summer a hard time (has any human ever attempted such a foolhardy feat as challenging a season before?), I have been enjoying the sunny weather for at least 30 minutes every day, whether or not I want to, and it’s actually very pleasant.

Strangefeather (who also has a new Facebook), will be going on a West Coast tour in August up through Oregon, Boise, Utah, Nevada, and back through California. It will be much shorter than our previous Spring tour, and we can’t wait to get back to the Southwest, South, Northeast, and Midwest again soon! We sincerely miss all the wonderful people that we are still in contact with from tour, and it’s great to hear from all of you!

Oh, and I’ve started playing solo again. I have just finished a new album called “Interstellar Lounge Music”, which isn’t quite ready for the world yet. Or is it that the world isn’t quite ready for it? I can’t tell, but I promise that this particular release will be special in that it will be promoted differently and more imaginatively than anything else I’ve done.

Final thought of the day:
“It is not the amount of talent you possess, but moreso the fervor with which you lie about the talents that you do not possess and the conviction with which you do so that ensures that you will eventually be either forgotten or laughed at eternally.” – The Shaman of Smoke

Leave a comment and tell me what you think about the current state of MySpace. It’s your turn to rant.