Needed to make a few trips away from home during this ice-storm and was truly inspired by what I witnessed out on the roads here… So here’s 5 quick tips in case you’re not used to driving in the ice and snow. By my estimation, this soft-headed contingent might be as much as EVERY SINGLE VEHICLE currently on the road in Texas.
If you have 2WD, bald/racing tires or a car that’s an inch off the ground: Stay the fuck home. No matter what. Even if it means you will die by not leaving. You’ll just end up killing other people (and yourself) with your ridiculously ill-equipped vehicle. Your lack of common-sense, as you do things like slide back down inclines into all the traffic behind you, will not endear you to anyone on the planet. Stay home.
If you have a 4×4/AWD (with grippy tires) then proceed with caution by AVOIDING ALL OTHER CARS. Even if it means putting a couple wheels up on the sidewalk and blasting through red-lights. Just get the fuck away from the clumpy packs of other drivers. Do not let these harbingers of death surround you. They will creep about and spinout and roll into each other like it was some creepy slo-mo bumper-car ride at some inbred county fair. Remember all car packs consist of at least 72% petrified morons continually shitting themselves out of fear; this causes them to do exactly the wrong thing at all times. The other 27.9999% are too dumb to be scared. The .0001% is me. This statement is probably a fact.
When your car drifts or slides in an undesirable direction LET OFF THE BRAKE AND PUT IT IN NEUTRAL (Even with an Automatic Transmission). Prob solved. Every time. Trust me.
When you need to stop: Begin braking 10x earlier than you are used to doing by VERY LIGHTLY touching the brakes in quick spurts. Also throwing it in neutral (see #3) always helps; this keeps your wheels from spinning and will snap you back into a straight line. Your car has no clue what’s happening. So it does what it’s told by the gas dripping into the engine.
If you decide to venture out (after passing the above qualifications) don’t’ drive 3-fuckin-MPH. Seriously. You’re like a wall standing in the middle roadway that everyone has to try to avoid. You become a huge fucking problem and a legit excuse for roadrage. This is why you have 4WD. You’re in the middle of it now… JUST FUCKING DRIVE. You’ll be okay (see steps 2, 3, & 4)… If your heart can’t take going with the given traffic flow, or faster when required, please refer back to the last sentence of rule #1.
Please forward this to anyone unaware of the stupidly lethal combination of cars and ice and dummies.
Creating anything I care about is typically a grueling process.
It begins with great enthusiasm and some shiny vision lodged deep in my minds eye. Hypnotized by the ‘beauty and importance’ and driven by excitement I always underestimate the amount of actual work it will take to bring it to completion. In truth, I’m usually quick to dispense with long-term details and dive right in. And no matter how often I go through this cycle I never seems to anticipate just how hard bringing an idea to life always tends to be.
A few days ago I set about designing a cover for Magnetic Fields, a new single that should be dropping in a matter of weeks. The cover itself will have fairly limited purpose as a thumbnail for streaming sites like Apple Music and Spotify so the pressure isn’t so great.
Taking the first steps in designing it required weeks worth of kicking this line-item from one “to-do” list to the next. Not sure why but this avoidance phase seems to be part of my operation. At the very least it’s something I have learned not to resist too much when possible; forcing artsy things will tends to make the final product suck. Procrastinating can get me firing on all cylinders, especially when something was suppose to be out the door yesterday but “creating from emergency” isn’t a method to employ too often if you plan on experiencing some level of old age.
I think my ‘process’ is dogged not so much by “having too many irons in the fire” but of “having too many irons and only room enough for one at a time in the fire. And they get changed out quickly” It really doesn’t matter how pressing or important something is to finish, if that something is something I don’t wanna do on a visceral level then it becomes boarder-line impossible to even start working on it. (see: Unemployable)
These past few weeks my muse has been very busy…
…and I’m very grateful for this. She has been keeping me back-lit by an intense musical glow. I’m always thankful when my oscillating interest-pallet pivots back to what I know best; music. As many of my close confidants know my infatuation with music has been steadily waning causing my enthusiasm to be increasingly spotty these last few years. Turning what you love into a full-time job can become back-breaking and soul-crushing at times. Who knew?
So as music, my first love, began gaining weight I naturally started looking elsewhere for some levity and fun. This has lead me into all kinds of interesting wormholes; most having nothing to do with music. (And huge props to the internet! You can learn about literally ANYTHING at ANYTIME! That fact will never cease to amaze.)
Anyways, I have mostly lived the bachelors-life over the last decade with, for the most part, the freedom to do whatever I want when I want almost everyday. A situation like this allows for a truly inordinate allotment of time to pursue any and all whims. For long swaths of time my curiosity has lingered and latched onto topics from the universe and space to trying to understand what makes brilliant stand-up comedians and athletes tick. The list of what has captured my attention over the years is pretty extensive and varied. Unfortunately all this random knowledge hunting doesn’t seem to pay the bills. Or at least I haven’t figured out how to make money by reading every Carl Sagan book and scouring the web for all the Christopher Hitchens lectures that exist.
Speaking of money and tangents…
If I would have (could have, more like it) put all this time and energy into playing music, and music only, I’d probably be as good as I thought I was as a delusional teenager learning my first chords. I was definitely slow on the uptake when it came to understanding the importance of self-criticism. I write a little more on this here: The Sad Plight of the Young Artist.
A few of the better examples at my Instagram account.
Back to it. One such blip of interest that hung on my radar long enough to blur the screen was watercolor painting. It’s an art form I’ve always had a certain fascination with with. Watercolor can blend realism and dream-states into a single image in a way that nothing else can. While looking for the next fix I took to fussing with the tools of the trade and began splashing up paper just to see what happens. One technique I loved to experiment with is letting the tone-filled water run rills down a tipped-up page. Turns out gravity and nature can paint cooler things than I’ll ever hope to. Click the image for a some of the examples that resulted from this process.
Figuring what to do for a cover for Magnetic Fields has been a looming chore since deciding I would release ahead of the album. The main hangup is that any desire to make art has been MIA since early last summer. Not sure why; just the way it is. So in the spirit of least resistance I shuffled through those old, drippy paintings and a few resonated loudly enough for some vague concepts to percolate.
My biggest problem with chucking a project past the finish-line…
…is detaching “what I’ve made” from “what I wanted to make”. I’m hardly ever able to make what’s in my mind come out just the way I see it. Sometimes what I make turns out better and cooler than I imagined… But mostly this isn’t an outcome that can be counted on; usually I’m somewhat disappointed with the final product. The trick is either accepting it for what it is and jumping back into the endless revisions near the drawing-board with the piles of torn-out hair under it. Often though nothing I try helps and eventually I reach for the “Omg-Fuck-It” sign; leaving the troublesome new prototype on the factory floor to collect dust and rot.
I suppose on some thin level that making art is a lot like having a kid, which I don’t have any of. You can have a baby and hope to mold it into your own image with your value-sets and outlooks but in the end she/he/it/they/whatever is going to be unique unto themselves. As a parent I imagine one of the biggest jobs is eventually accepting this and seeing your child not as an extension of yourself but as an entirely independent being with it’s own whacked-out personality and mixed-up thoughts.
So comparing a living-child to a 6″x6″ image that was mostly assembled using Photoshop trickery seems a bit lofty. But I think the analogy here works. Whether I throw on the horse-blinders and blitz something out the door or try to control every aspect of the operation, in the end, acceptance is the only way to finality. And acceptance is the hardest part for someone with perfectionist tendencies and it’s why I’m stuck with a considerable amount of songs. Sometimes you just gotta throw up that sign and let the kids go on and be their fucked-up little selves. So in a sense I am trying to be better as a parent and simultaneously have many more kids. It’s a tough balance when your goal is to shove them out the door as quickly as possible. They deserve to be the feral little monsters they were born to be.
Art for me is way faster and easier to make than music.
I’m not going for the extreme adherence to my vision with art because mostly I can’t. I just don’t have the same level of skill and control as I do with music; I have way less excuses not to nail when making songs. Designing this single-cover was like a scaled-down version of what I want my song writing/recording process to be. Fast, easy and over. After scanning the paintings to the computer I started playing around with fonts and layouts. Once I found some balance and cohesion I then drew the font by hand (it looks more hand-made this way; obviously…) then imported everything back into PS where I tweaked about for a few more hours while listening my friends doing live-stream shows. (See some working versions here) Once I had had enough I slept on it. In the morning, after some deliberation over styles with a friend, I whipped together a final version. That was it. I’m hoping that this condensed, walled-in approach will bring wider-perspective to my way-too-lengthy music making process. Maybe it can bring some brevity to my way too lengthy writing process as well…
Here’s some of the many versions I passed through to find the final cover-art.
Regardless of whether it’s art or music…
…there’s one final stretch of road that has to be traversed. The space on this continuum is positively littered with stalled-out song heaps now trapped forever in the twilight of birth. Although this doomed wreckage may find itself being visited by the scavenging songwriter from time to time; for the most part this place is a monolithic graveyard of failure’s best attempts. It’s hard not to look around and notice all the wasted effort it took get these malformed songs to their final, unintended resting places. And walking away empty-handed smarts like hell on it’s but what may be worse is the way the sentiment hangs on; chipping away bits of resolve with each slow step toward starting anew. Moving on after a failure, for an artist of any sort, requires a hefty amount of functional delusion I guess.
Well the good news is that just venting some of this psychobabble can really mash the reset button down. Clearing the cluttered slate of these languishing reminders fills me with some sparkly forward-momentum and the urge to once again pile the slate high and start on something new.
In the meantime I’m releasing the new single, Magnetic Fields, right here for the first time. This is all the fan fare it will receive for a few weeks at least. It’s my way of thanking you readers who actually slogged it through all 1710 words of this.
Thank you for listening and please, have a listen.
So it’s just after noon here on Friday morning and I’m feeling rather dumb. For one thing I spent almost five hours face-timing last night with a wonderful girl who lives about 2000 miles away. She might as well live next door; it’s not like we could see each other anyways. I’m thinking I’d throw an unhealthy amount of caution to the wind for this sweetheart if she was really that close. Welcoming these unexpected sparks into my life and actively panning for more isn’t why I’m feeling dumb though. Not in the least. Though at a glance the long game here looks bleak but I just don’t believe in dropping something that feels this good out of some pragmatic or existential reasoning. People who play too safe and live by some chanceless, idealistic bent tend to cut themselves down before the finish line. They may be happy to trudge home with the “participant” ribbon but you know the whole while they’re wondering what it feels like to hold the gold.
I’ve learned that if you want something then you have to stay the course and deal with the obstacles as they present themselves. Not give up before there’s any resistance. In my experience this is the only way the impossible can become possible. Right now I don’t care that her and I doesn’t make sense on paper and that we are separated by three solid days worth of driving and that both of us are heavily embedded in our own locales. I can’t think about that now. If this is meant to work out then it will find a way. I mean, saying that is sort of a non-sequitur because we can never actually know what would have happened that time when we zigged instead of zagged. What’s that quote? and who’s it by? “You lose every chance you don’t take?”
I’m not so stupid to believe in something as empty and vacuous as “The Secret” or that simply praying to the universe will bring what you want. If that shit worked EVERY TIME then I’d be a believer. The fact is things sometimes work out and sometimes they fall apart; it’s always been that way.
Over the ages the charlatans have figured out that it’s easy to manipulate our feeble intuitions into believing there’s something behind random chance. People can’t help but to find patterns in the static, significance in the insignificant, spooks in the shadows. A face on the moon. We’re built for making sense out of this mystery we’ve been thrust into. Us human would never had made it this far without these great powers of deduction. But this machinery is still running on overdrive in a modern world that’s best understood through math and science. Those simplistic sentiments are as ridiculous as they are popular. I mean there’s very smart people who believe in numerology after all. I’m still waiting for them all to win the lottery. But winning the lotto is also chance.
My point? Look. Like each of you there’s tons of instances where I wanted something so badly and was even convinced my chances of living a good life depended on getting it… and in the end things still didn’t pan out and I didn’t die. All the praying, all the good thoughts to the universe, all the miles walking on the righteous path and most importantly, all the grit and grinding and still no reward… How do you square these moments with the results after telling yourself to just wish harder? For me the best way is to notice your surroundings and the very spot where you are sitting. All these dashed hopes and near misses contributed as much to where you are as all the success’s and wins did. As long as something feels good then I think you need to go for it. It doesn’t mean you’ll always get what you want but it might be that you get what you need. I have to give credit to the Stones for that tidbit of philosophy; I think they were dead on. Dawes, speaking of bands and songs, deftly grazed this fundamental truth of life as well. Dig the these lines from When My Time Comes.
“So I took what I wanted And put it out of my reach. I wanted to pay for my successes With all my defeats. And if Heaven was all That was promised to me Why don’t I pray for death?”
Right?!?! …and then there’s this line I rather like a lot…
“You can judge the whole world on the sparkle that you think it lacks. Yes, you can stare into the abyss, but it’s starin’ right back.”
Check out this Dawes song and their accompanying video here below. It’s stellar.
So I’m gonna keep leaning into what feels right because I don’t know how to do it any other way. The odds probably favor frustration and heartache if strong feelings develop but in the end (to use another well-worn cliche) you can’t win of you don’t play.
Okay, things just got pretty unspooled there; its been a long while since I’ve had a woman on the brain to such a degree and I’m no longer used to it… ah well. Moving on and I’m now realizing I still haven’t told you why I’m feeling so dumb today… It’s because throughout the duration or our five-hour chat I was sipping straight Tito’s vodka. This on the surface sounds nut, I know, but hear me out. This manner of imbibing has been a successful ‘life hack’ of mine I put into practice starting late last fall. I really like Tito’s vodka but not enough to gulp it straight. No way. The stanky burn of 80 proof spirits has a built in self-correction mechanism that works remarkably well for me. Part of my problem with alcohol has always been that I simply drink it too fast (i do the same thing with coffee and seltzer water). After a few drinks my governors often fall off and I lose the instinct to keep track; it’s just what happens when you’re having fun. By drinking it ‘on the rocks’ a single scotch glass worth tends to last me way longer than say a beer or a mixed drink would. Way longer. For instance, while playing in Key West with Ben Balmer in January one drink usually survived the full duration of our 4 hours sets. It has really worked for me but can’t I remember the last time that I drank for 5 fucking hours. So there-in lies my mistake. Live and learn right?
••• Trump in the time of COVID •••
Though the mental fog has dampened my day some there is still plenty of room for love, light and laughter. I mean the headlines this morning were just fucking priceless. Trump seems to think you can inject people with disinfectant to stop COVID… I wish the word “retard” was still permissible to use because it would have fit perfect here….
Oh and here’s a crazy yet related thought: Is it any wonder why the most ill-educated people in this country think Trump is the Second Coming of the Messiah?
Everyday I can’t believe things could get crazier but the alternative facts just keep flowing from the disgraced oval office.
In closing… maybe the president will save us all some pain and take his own advice:
••• “To my friends and relatives that still believe in Trump” ||| The DailyKos •••
A distant relative who I recently connected with sent me an article today. He said it made him think of me. Our values and sensibilities when it comes to scouring the planet for good information seem to be very much aligned. Not gonna get into the how’s or why’s but take my word on it. Had I found this bit of writing first I believe I would have sent it his way.
The opening venn-diagram really caught my eye. “Thoughtful People that read and think critically” in one circle and “Trump Supporters” in the other with VERY little overlap. Though this might seem like a easy jab it’s really not; it’s a clear fact for anyone willing to look with open eyes. For me this has been, and is, a constant and uncomfortable observation being that I’m related to a inordinate amount of Trumpers. Can’t say I have a single non-related “friend” who supports him though. I don’t really bother with anything less than great company and being able to think clearly is a prerequisite; every one of my close acquaintances are whip-smart.
Anyways it’s as impossible to not notice the lack of thoughtfulness in that tribe as it is to find pro-Trump arguments that are halfway coherent and don’t quickly devolve into something about Obama using those deflective “yeah-but-what-about” fallacies. The sad truth is that his supporters, for the most part, could give a fuck about a solid argument or they wouldn’t be supporting that one-dimensional sociopath in the first place. Seems they could give fuck about thinking all half the time. Instead they’d rather let the twisted fear mongering right-wing propaganda channels think their thought’s for them.
Let me share my youngest brothers opinion on tagged article; he’s always great for a smart take on something. Our sensibilities are also almost always in alignment. I count myself very lucky that I can send a good write-up like this to both of my brothers and it won’t be construed as an insult. But unfortunately I have my doubts that it will track much outside of the larger of the two circles.
“This article was great. It’s nice to read fact based things like this that try not to be partisan and still show how unqualified he is for the job. I know Trump supporters would still call it liberal propaganda but that’s the world we live in.”
Click the brilliant venn-diagram for the article.
••• Making Sense w/ Sam Harris: A Conversation w/ Caitlin Flanagan •••
Sam Harris is my jam. This dropped yesterday and I haven’t started it yet. But I will asap.
Hit his website at https://samharris.org/ and subscribe to his podcast
Also check out his awesome meditation app: Waking Up
••• Michelle Wolf: The Media Is Hopelessly Addicted to Trump ||| The Daily Beast •••
One of my little, but physically bigger, brothers sent me this opinion piece today. Really loving me the sharp-witted brain and tongue of Michelle Wolfe these days. She was on Joe Rogan awhile ago and I remember really loving the interview. (JRE with Michell Wolf) How comedians have become one of the best sources of truth is an important question. Maybe for a later time.
Like many of us my first introduction to her comedy was her unexpected and fitting roast of The-Orangy-One at the the White House correspondence dinner in 2018. That routine was a breath of fresh air for many of us silenced by our own fatigue over the years following the election. The human mind just isn’t built to grapple for so long with so much impossible information. Everyday the antics from the White House were out-doing the previous days with crazier and scarier shit… With the news cycle now being pumped into our faces in deafening 27/7 intervals it’s only natural that some of us have tune it out to survive. To get on with my life I learned to take small gulps of the insanity once or twice a week. It seems though that about 40% of the population learned to cope in a different way. They got free by taking their brains completely off-line. Guess they found it easier to accept the daily deluge of paper-thin lies and obvious contradictions as the truth than to deal with the cognitive dissonance the rest of us content with . These fine folks, mostly nestled far outside the ‘big cities’, learned to watch the action like a home team sporting event. They picked their team and root away even as the players are firing machine gun into the stands.
Another thing related to this line of thinking… Is it really surprising that someone so clearly detached from any of the decent moral teachings of the Bible has the evangelical vote? It’s not hard to find the tie that binds in this case. Back to it. Here’s Michelle’s great OP-Ed from the The Daily Beast.
Click for full article
••• 31: Ryan Holiday on the Portal w/ Eric Weinstein •••
Click to hear podcast.
A few hours ago I was gearing up for a run. Or paring down actually. It’s a beautiful, sunny day here in Austin and I saw no point in anything besides the minimal clothing requirements. Before setting out I was flipping for the next podcast to dump into my head. I’d just finished the Joe Rogan episode I mentioned yesterday. When I run I don’t really enjoy listening to people talk. It’s usually some chill music for me. Or nothing besides my own rhythm and thoughts. Exercise I typically find to be a great time to disengage from the world and an even better time to get closer to some hypnotic, meditative state. Running is perfect for rocking the present.
Since CV19 however I’ve had little reason to go on long drives which is where I usually consume the bulk of my programs. Driving and cooking meals are my windows for this. Food always takes about 30 mins for me to dish a dish and it’s one of my favorite spaces in the day for podcasts (and phone calls for that matter) but I only cook twice a day and the shows are piling up.
Anyways I happened on episode 31 of the Portal; a show hosted by one of the most brilliant people on the planet Eric Weinstein. This guy is truly over the top in his encyclopedic like knowledge and infinite reservoir of curiosity for all things. He can be a bit much for some personalities to take and it’s understandable; there’s often an air of entitlement when he’s delivering opinions or interlocking with a guest. I’ve done my best to overlook all that because there’s an incredibly interesting mind beyond his more jarring and less-savory human qualities. When you’re an honest-to-god polymath at the top of the intellectual pack and and many of the brightest minds on the planet look up you maybe the underlings could cut some slack? No one is perfect and everyone is a little weird once you spend enough time with them.
His guest is Ryan Holiday who is a resident of Austin I just found out. Neat. I’m halfway through his book The Perennial Seller. He has a smooth flow that makes for easy and pleasant reading. This particular book, although short, is taking awhile because I don’t wanna miss anything. This one truly has my attention; it’s about making and marketing products (including art/music) that lasts for decades. Currently I’m in the 11th hour of releasing a long overdue album but great advice can’t be had too late.
I have only made it about 1/4 of the way through this 2:30hr show and posting here and now seems a little premature but I guess I am excited to share. It’s always a thrill to hear my favorite personalities talking the talk.