Fire Starter

I read once in all that’s wonderful about life, love is the greatest force you’ll experience. Something like, to not cast your love is to choose not to live. This isn’t just romantic love, this is every kind of love that exists. This is being kind to a stranger or telling a friend you love them.

Lying on my back in the water I felt her. And before that when I was hiking I felt her there too. When I go to the store to grab coffee my body walks as if she is around. I smell her all the time. This is the truth inside me, pure and honest, vulnerable and willing. I’m open to feeling all that I need to experience even in the stages beyond my control. Even when I’ve accepted I can’t do anything with these occurrences but feel them and enjoy it. I could push it further and make myself into a wreck furthering a new type of memory in rejection. But what is rejection? Or, I can just own what I feel, believe in it, and live. Time isn’t a friend to anyone unless it’s used to heal, and in that healing create progress. Right? Of course it’s helped me in all the things stewing that need healing this past year. But even in this part of time this one person is hanging on inside me, vibrating my senses, and making me feel like a child whose curling his toes with anticipation he might run into her. I can’t figure it out. Why does it still dazzle my feathers? I love it.  It tells me I believe in life and open to receive everything without certainty. No limits, no “self” to block what needs to birth new. Just standing in the wind and loving the ones I love.

I feel alive and having the inability to move on from someone isn’t a curse, it’s a gift. When I see her, or more so, sense her, it truly feels like nature. It’s as if I have plugged into the trees and grounded my skin with blood to the soil. All of this beauty from a few short months with another human being I barely know. How is that not worth expressing?  This one person made me feel a sense of awakening and if only I could have let go of myself (then) to grasp how she would impact my existence fully, who knows…love isn’t without its complications. I’m not a fool in this space. I’m just wacky and weird enough to tell you my truth.

Your friends will tell you to move on, “she’s just one person in a sea of others”. It’s really good advice if you care for someone and you want them to feel better. But this isn’t about moving on or feeling better. I feel like an open field lit with the sun. When you taste something you like that becomes your taste. When you hear a song you love that becomes your song. Once you allow this expression to get underneath the thick layer of yourself that protects the fragility in your center, it’s over for moving on. There is no moving on, because we’re talking about your individual self letting go to the feeling to become the next level of your life, it has to come with you. Sure it loosens up its grip on your day so you forget a little, we all forget at times. You have plenty of moments doing other things. And in one second, a simple walking through a door or turning down a street, a natural fragrance comes through and you pick her back up in yourself, and feel her. That’s the place all the poets and artists who sing about love come from. That’s the place we all come from if we allow ourselves.

There’s no words or advice that will wipe away this feeling. There’s no religion or philosophy strong enough to erase or challenge it either. I’m writing this to express how human beings can impact each other. How we meet people and their impressions can be lasting. They can improve us. Even if we don’t get a chance to keep dancing with them.

I use to say, I’m not the biggest fan of people (I thought it sounded cool), but I’m seeing the light in how they can surprise me if I’m willing and ready. I love the idea of “no expectations” but it’s quite complicated to apply in practice. Our minds are a walking vessel of life, it’s wrapped up, communicating to our brains. It makes us crazy and finds us doing things we don’t understand. Love is the most maddening and breath-taking emotion, such a complicated veil of colors. I’m strong enough to feel love without it being invited to place it somewhere. I say cast it all for as long as you can. And do it for yourself, because that might be a solid way to experience your life.

Truth is I was afraid of my own love, probably hers too. I was so scared it would be seen that I panicked. In doing so I might have missed some bright times and a special bond with an individual I could have truly been able to let go, and really be seen with. Maybe I have to realize this so the next time I can be ready/

When I went to the Detroit Electronic Music Festival this year (Movement Festival) I tried to dance my way out of it. I sweat so hard and moved my body so differently, with the small hope I could erase it, or leave it in a nest somewhere I would forget in myself. It didn’t work. Turns out,  It was the love making me dance. And in that I lie down and let it wash over me for real. I’m not afraid of it anymore, no more fear in feeling or casting expression. It’s the most natural thing our instinct engages us to do but we’ve been saturated on subconscious algorithms of how to be in the world. What’s proper, or right, what’s normal, and accepted? I say let’s be freaks about our expression. Cast it all in one big open flame, those who stop will see and hang out, those that don’t, nothing we can do about it. But it’s still going to be fire, and it’ll represent the fullest version of ourselves. It’ll be the “you” that reacts before all the bullshit hesitations and persona filter stuff, a work in progress for all human beings.

It’s so hard to get there but when we do, I bet the small window that’s been painted shut for so many years will start to crack. You’ll step through that opening, new and ready for the world. At least I hope that’s what will happen. I’ll let you know on here. Its hopeful but hope feels good, right? Of course there’s the reality of getting hurt, but in that pain all it says is that you are living your own life. The loss, pain, and rejection, are a part of living. So keep at it.

What I’ve experienced regarding love could be the gateway into some type of truthful existence, a mechanism to burst through societal stasis, and become that feeling as an expressive, bold, entity. A magnitude of power and vulnerability so great, you destroy all that is placid in you so willingness and life become realized, and only then peace becomes reality. This isn’t just romantic love, this is how I love my brother or how I feel when I reach out to help someone, tell a fellow creative how much I enjoyed their work, or telling someone I’m proud of them.

My whole existence flourishes when I’m bold enough to set my bullshit aside, and cast the good feels in all of me. I won’t stop loving for anyone, but I’ll respect the avenues, and places it’s not welcome, and accepted. Hopefully one living example can change one fluid circumstance. Either way, I believe in life, and I see love as a fire starter for all that matters in the world. 

 I’ve expressed on here the “idea” that I live as an artist to create experience for my work, using a muse. That “love” might be a mechanism to create, and maybe it’s not love at all. It’s fascinating to ponder these possibilities. I would only ever express these thoughts from a trusting space. The fact I would relay them in an open format says a lot to me about who I am. Has my music, and writing been influenced by these feelings? Absolutely. But I would lay both down for love. It isn’t for using experience to better my work. I can only hope that both love and creativity will flourish together, making me better so I can cast that onto the world in whatever way the moment is telling me to. A creative needs life to experience, no doubt about it, and a life needs creativity. I’ve arrived at a place that transcends any formula that tells me why I love, or how it impacts my work. Both can be alive in me without short-changing the other, or making one more important. Together, they create a symbiotic foundation, forming a community of thought and emotions. It’s wild, but pure, and honest. I love for love, and I create art to understand how to feel love in its raw form, to be open to accepting it, and then giving it back in all walks of my life. I respect love, in many ways its “godlike” for me.

So far, I have randomly laughed and cried (with joy) more in the last six months than I can recall anytime before. I’m awake to live. And I’m going to keep living. This love movement isn’t for eagerness or rushing to find it. When you’re open to yourself, love finds a way to show up. I’m grateful the few times mine has, I’ve realized it, owned it, and casted it. I’m also grateful that those who know me, understand me, and are similarly open to these experiences. It’s only a few (in my life), but those few are bright and bold, real individuals and sponges for the world who inspire me to keep going. They allow me the space to learn and express. They offer up a special canvas and allow me to toss on my visions for the immediacy of now. Am I crazy? In the sense that I’m wildly excited for life and love, absolutely.

 

After The Before

after the before

There use to be a simple idea in my head about creating fantasy to obtain reality. When in actual reality, you are in the moment you are in, not without control of actions, but without certainty. A life unfolds in the ether, it shifts and moves with an abundance of thoughts, materials, shuttering within itself. There is nothing wrong with hope, or “manifesting” your directions to see how much of your future you can control, it’s a technique to surviving through this giant mess of existence. I’m learning over these past months, there is no control. You like things, you project a persona to hold onto what you like. Yeah, be real, be authentic, but the world is gonna be the world, and you are in it, without much control. You have your moments, and a developing philosophy on how to get through them, but ultimately you just have yourself. Yes, other people are important. I’m not saying your alone so be alone, I’m saying OWN YOURSELF, then be in the world.

I certainly believe in energy. There is a force you give and take from. This field gives it back to you, I believe that. I have no answers to any questions beyond myself, and in that self, is an endless line of more questions, so what do I really know? A person, if they’re connected to who they are, knows what to do, how to trust their intuition, right? Many times the fantasy we create will confuse that instinct, it will blurry the lines, shade the colors, and put you out there slightly different from what you might realize. I don’t know if it’s a bad thing. I figure “fantasy” creates ambition, which creates purpose, and brings forth new lights, and education? All those things are good. It’s easy to see how quickly we can get swept up in a faith or perspective that’s not really ours, but brought back to us from transferring our fears, or ideals in self, onto someone else, or a new experience.

Lets be clear here. Life is already hard without spending the moments in it hoping to gain even the slightest grasp on what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Do we really ever know what we’re doing? Or do we spend our whole life trying to figure it out, so we’re sheltered from the true blue reality that its gonna be over, poof, we’re gone? I most certainly want to live a full life, free to myself, within a community of like-minded or differing people. But it’s fantasy. It’s not so far off that it won’t happen, but I can’t help but think the idea of it keeps me from truly living right now. All we are is now, whats behind a door, or a curtain, doesn’t matter, you’re always going to have to go straight through it, not around it. I’m gonna hopefully stop trying to predict, or know whats after, the before. I can go straight through anything, taking and giving, sponging for art, building up myself so I can live as an example in boldness, or simply stated, truly being who I am, not who I am supposed to be, or who I think I can become through remedy.

There is no riddle to solve. Sure, learn from what you do. You better be open to that part, but there is no answers, just more and more questions. You pick up little pieces and build fictional houses in your mind of what you believe gives you the sense that you are on top of everything. But in reality, you’re in the wind, blowing around, landing, then up and away you go again, to a new place. All along you’ve had the only answer you’ll ever need, which is to say, you are always right there. No control on time, or others. It’s just you out here. Keep your things to get through all of this, you need them. But they’re not the saving forces of any outcome (maybe sanity). You have no control, and in that, there’s  real freedom.

The tricky part is understanding how to really feel that space. Which brings us back to the “more questions” part of this piece. I think too much “self-care” is dangerous. Not because its harmful in the immediate sense of the word, but its possible that ritual brings repression in a person. Not everything you’re looking for is in the earth, or in a book someone else wrote teaching you how to read signs, or dissect some cool philosophy.  Yeah, if it makes you feel better, go for it. But how much are you missing b/c you read somewhere the elemental signs in a day reveal a clear path?  And whats really going on if you’re always having to find a place that “feels” better, is it better? So I guess this is the part I take a deep breath and feel everything, let emotions be my guide? Maybe even a scarier place. Emotional response can be as fickle as a chemical reaction in your body from lunch. I’ve spent plenty of time in this world. Not all bad, and gifts come from it, but intensity can be a real curse. That shit will pass and there you’ll be, again, and again, with different perspectives. It’s not wrong to feel, or work on yourself, but you have to let go and be where you are, this might be the most important step I’m thinking. Balance is important, but forced balanced isn’t real balance. So what do we know then? Haha!

The hope is you can experience enough, not to spend all your time focusing on who you are, but just enjoying, that you are someone at all. If you’re lucky, you’re a creative person, a kind person. If you’re unlucky, I have no idea what you are. I don’t know if I even believe in luck. Maybe the real answer is to not believe in anything at all? Nah, for me, creativity is where I find the most joy and comfort and whats close to some understanding of who I might be today, and maybe that’ll be tomorrow? It’s not the thing you hang on a wall mind you. It’s the governing philosophy that to create is to live. This comes in all forms. You can be creative without a product to sell, or a fashion to hitch yourself to. The mind is imagination, not sheltered by walls, but open, wild, and becoming. There is an endless river of fear in the idea of malleability. But in that there is hope, there is a place of peace. That I, the human being living with this blood, this matter, am a walking, talking, thinking, endlessly searching individual, and its ok that’s not forever. Its ok I don’t know what it means, or how I relate to the signs. I’m open to it all, thats how I know I am alive.  There’s different ways to obtain it, none of us know, or have the right remedy. And we never will. That has to be the gateway to happiness. Otherwise, we’ll just waste our time looking, instead of standing still in the ever-present reality of, right now. That stillness is the most powerful thing I have ever felt in my life. Its the core, the soil, the palm of a hand. Its where it all feels the most real. And its where I’m sending off all my hangers on, all my fleeting moments. They belong to that space now, and I belong to nothing but myself, in that space.

NOTE: I easily meet people and get lost in them (if there’s something to it), almost like a mechanism to take what I need for my imagination in order to produce art. Like a vessel that goes undercover, collecting data and new inspiration so the ghost will come and feed the muse. I’m not sure this is healthy, but its real, and I’m honest about it. But I also find I deny it so I can believe the experience is worth more than it is. Do I write poetry and express raw emotion to others because it’s for them, or do I do it because the “idea” of it is intoxicating? Are they the drug, and I’m the addict? It’s interesting to think about. I’ll give that to the stillness as well. Bye Now!

 

 

Contrast Killers

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The invisible lines connect to the wrinkles on my face. An everlasting urge to hate, living with a fantastical dream that falls endlessly down the seconds of life. I don’t want to look at you and feel this way. I want to feel love for what you do. I see so much in the world on my phone. The exhaustion of success, self-propelled stardom, beautiful images of lust, and creative overflow, all should make me better. And in part they do, but the other half of it feels an edge, feels the blues, encourages a demise of confidence in myself. Life is short, but you also have to be patient? What a fucking bummer.

There might not be a way out of it. For decades I’ve turned my head away from taking some sort of mood stabilizer. Have you ever looked in the eyes of a person under that influence, or mixed the silence in the air with their tone of voice and body language? Not everyone is easy to see, but plenty are obvious if you honestly listen to them, and see passed yourself.

Before I moved from Michigan, I visited a Psychiatrist for an “introduction” session. We spoke for thirty minutes about my current vibe. He gave me a sense of his version of who I was, how I was behind the normal progress for “standards” at mid twenty, but he could help. He explained that his wife, who was an Artist, struggled for years with indecision and an inability to complete tasks. He prescribed her a magic pill, one that changed her life, set her free, and killed the contrast.

I was only 24, dumb as shit, and confused about everything. The days seemed endless, the beauty not pretty, the sun did nothing for me. I ran from companionship, in part from a sexual insecurity, but also as a game I could play where I controlled what I deserved. Here I was trying to grasp why I was running through the peaks and valleys of my mind. My head was a forest for getting lost, sitting in a depression bucket of fear, while writing bad poetry. I’d sometimes look at my plate of food, I’m satiated, I know I can’t eat another bite. Then the voice in my head says “you always complete 95% of what you”re doing, then quit” so I clean my plate. Not because I don’t want to waste the food out of guilt that children are starving in Africa, or down the street. I just think somehow it makes me better to finish something, anything. In some odd way it’ll help me complete a project, or fulfill a task thats important for me down the line. It could be practice for doing better, or an example that the crazy continues to win small battles, and my rationale self is in the corner crying like a little bitch. So I asked the dude in the office, If I take these “contrast killers” won’t it change everything else about me? Won’t it change the areas I believe make me who I am?

The psychiatrist was what you’d expect, the classic stereotypical male shrink, right out of Robin William’s portrayal in Good Will Hunting, except not so philosophical or interesting. He was bearded, wearing a cardigan, glasses, and casual enough to chat with me from a cluttered desk that suffered minutes of  nervously shuffling paper. I dressed like a psychiatrist for a while once, another way for me to pretend, or try on a career without all the hard work, or I just like cardigans and beards. The irony of our conversation was my ability to recognize my own issues, and explain how to solve them. He laughed a little, and said “You already know what you need to do, so whats keeping you from doing it?” But did I?

Early in my college years (a ten year period of dropping out, until I finally finished) I took an art class. I was about to get my first critique on this ugly cornucopia drawing we were required to do (on the first day I thought the class and teacher lacked creativity). Each person got to talk about their work first, then the class could expand. I spent five minutes analyzing (it sucks) this pile of shit, and the response from everyone was “he pretty much said everything there is to say about it.” Two weeks later I quit going to that class, and the whole “quitter” ethos continued to grow in my subconscious. I guess I just kept eating all my eggs, hoping it would change.

I wasn’t going to take any pills though, he wasn’t my first go with getting treatment. I went regularly as a child (no pills) when my parents divorced. I used to role play with stuffed animals, which was fun as hell, I ‘d do it right now in fact. “The teddy bear is my father, and the mouse is me. The teddy bear is getting beaten to death, and the mouse if full of glee.” I’m not sure if it works, but kicking that bear’s ass, in front of an old lady, certainly moved some kind of marker for me to let it go and begin again.

The point to this gets lost among the other general blurry ideas, and layer pealing. But I know that I can get pretty salty, and I regret who I am half the time. Do we have to accept who we are? Or learn how to fight against settling on that notion? The things that define me, keep me from making progress. Its my hope that realizing the contrast, and being willing to feel the burden of existence, even when its tiresome. Ultimately, it will make me feel whole, if only for a few seconds. The jealousy, the insecurity, body shaming, a general sense of failure, I need those things in order to become nothing.

Too often I hear from people, “I’m trying to focus on the positive.” Thats great, but how do you define that? How do you discern between the two sides of emotion? Its through contrast we exist. The relationship between the two is as important as you believe the “positive” is to yourself. What positive is to you, most likely is all about you, and not anything more than self serving the demon to gratify your own consciousness. The positive (all the time) is another way of saying you’re really not feeling anything. I want to feel pain, so I can figure out how to cure it, how to establish a grit in myself to come out of it spinning invisible love colors to everyone around me.

If I walk up to you and call you a “motherfucker” I’ve created a negative circumstance, right? I’ve also created an opportunity for us to shake our existence to its bone, kill off the stagnation, so we can become new again, refresh a sense of why we like one another. It creates a wrinkle that poses the question, why are we talking in the first place or why are we friends? I might be a loner most of the time, but thats a choice because most people don’t want real relationships, they want someone to justify the corner they’ve been shitting in for decades.

My core pals are still tight because its not all surface, all the time. We talk trash, we open up, we put each other back down to a level when one of us gets too big for ourselves. I just think thats beautiful, and I want more of that in people if I’m going to expand my circle and get close. Otherwise, just look down at your phone, and live someone else’s life. I’ll be around eating all the food on my plate.

 

 

 

 

End Scene

End-Scene

I’ve been caught many times talking to myself. I’m okay with it (mostly), but it makes me wonder why I do it. I’m assuming it’s fairly healthy to ask a question in your head, then answer it out loud? Maybe not…It might be the most honest part of my day. In that moment it’s as if I’ve left my body, utterly absolved from my surrounding, refreshed in the sense that I truly haven’t thought about someone over hearing me, seeing me bemused about justifying a jealousy, or why the hell people piss me off so much. The moment I come to, and make eye contact with a stranger whose been looking at me contemplate my existence, they’re watching me shuffle through doubts, to deduce a standard for the next seconds to feel comfortable with. They see me in a physical state of mind and body separation; its as if my subconscious hits autopilot allowing me to feel my own insecurity in a clear way.

There’s two lovely emotions. I feel naked like I’m taking a drug that gets you high in 2 seconds, but only last that long. The rush to the face, now turning red, the stomach knots folding and unfolding like fish caught in a giant net. The blurry coming into focus when you make eye contact, then my reaction to realizing I’m talking to myself in public, and that person on their porch has been watching me for a minute. Of course I don’t own it, I look up, awkwardly say hello, and then pretend I’m talking on a blue tooth, or if I’m lucky enough, I’m pushing the stroller with my two sons, so I start to speak to them as if I had been the whole time. Somehow in my mind I believe my ability to rally and pretend, my willingness to feel the experience and sit down in the chemical reaction makes me a better person. The embarrassment in these moments is addicting, and scary. But its a slice of myself in full frame.

Recently, I went to an affluent part of town to take a “meeting” with a talent agency. I thought my world would shift from this. I literally had planned my own success, saw lights flashing, and the puzzle snapping together. This was it, I was finally getting over my fear of it all. I looked good, really good. I had my hip, tight, green-gray pants on, black inside out custom v neck T-shirt (I cut this myself of course), black monochrome Chuck Taylors, and a black sport coat from the Gap. Walking up to the door, the whole building was reflective glass, I got to see myself before I walked in. I took a hard long look as I got closer to the door, just before I grabbed the handle, my eyes met with my own eyes, a validation was occurring, I felt like magic. I felt like a fucking chi-maestro whose about to take the crown. I was about to wow people, be the star who got discovered in a medium city in the south, and saved from obscurity. Then reality blew up my scene like a truck bomb. The self-imposed splash of arrival, dashed, shaking the fantasy to the bone. The dope track in my head bumping, skipped off like not knowing the lingo in front of a group of cool people, or biting your tongue when you’re about to make a point. It was a shit show, the agency, whom I’ve flirted with for years, essentially played me for a sucker. There was no meeting, no sense of being discovered. I was a number, I was cattle in a line, waiting to feed with the rest of these zeros. As soon as that door opened I knew this was not the way I wanted to make an introduction. The lady behind the desk said (in a robotic voice) “please sign in, take one of these to fill out your personal information, and memorize one of these for your audition.” I’ve had better vibes facing a judge at the courthouse. The voice in my head started going off like a washed up barfly, but my face and body, wearing this cool garb held steady. “Audition? what audition? No one told me about any audition?” I felt the first sweat bead start to form itself on the left side of my receding hairline, the pants I was wearing immediately started telling my body “you look fat in these guy” my pretty face practically jumped out in front of me laughing “you think your ready for this??” The place felt so cheap, super gaudy, shiny bad taste. The homeboy handing out clipboards was a skinny thirty something right out of the movie Swingers, but gay. I kept looking at him to see if he was looking at me, to see if I noticed his body language telling me “who’s this tall handsome guy, he’s the one” but that never happened. The walls were covered in what I assume were the agencies “success” stories. He was on the wall of course, with an autographed framed head shot. Which was a red flag in itself. I thought, “Why the hell are you handing out clipboards in front of your autographed head shot?.”I took a clipboard, sat down on a couch.

The room was small, and somewhat crowded. The whole things felt even worse when I looked around at the other candidates; little girls with their parents, a high school kid with her mom, and another guy, who was heavy-set, not really attractive, wearing cowboy boots and a shaved head. Everyone in the room was white, and it felt like we were all eating at a bad cafeteria whose owner loved 1950s color red, bubblegum, and very high gloss. The nervous energy was almost too much for me to handle. I started to read the audition sheet they wanted me to memorize in a very short period of time. I was suppose to pick one of  five brands, each with a paragraph describing a new product. One of them was McDonald’s, yeah fucking McDonalds man. It was for some new chicken bullshit. I skipped to the next one, its was another long description of a product I hadn’t used since high school, when I was shaving my chest with Gillette shaving gel. I set the clipboard down, with the pen, stood up casually, wiped my forehead and immediately looked around for the bathroom. I was getting the hell out of this place, but I had to save a little face, make it look good for these people who seemed to care less that such an “amazing” person was in their presence.

I went for the bathroom door, and of course, its locked, someone else is in there. I’m sure they’re looking in the mirror trying to figure out if there’s an escape route through the ceiling. After a minute or less, they came out, and I was in, it was my turn to come up with a plan to simply walk out the front door. Then I realized, why don’t I just walk out the front door? I mean, who cares, these hollywood wannabes don’t know me, but it was too late. I was in their bathroom, staring at myself in the mirror, and yes, talking to myself. “This isn’t what you want to do, this isn’t how you see yourself, maybe you could fake a phone call?” The lightbulbs in my head blew up like paparazzi storming the home of Justin Bieber. I took a piss, straightened my favorite outfit, and did my little hand swoop to my salt and pepper hair. I walked out on my cell phone, took a beat in the hallway to start a fake conversation before I entered the lobby again. “Well, there’s not much I can do right now, did you see if Tim was available to help you? Are you sure you checked everything, I could get over there if you need me, but I am kind of busy at the moment.” All this is happening as I walk through the lobby, doing a few slow motion spin moves, looking up at the ceiling, looking down at the floor, cell phone pressed tight to my ear. In my head, while my mouth keeps talking to no one on the phone, I’m thinking “there’s the door, I just have to push that shit, and I’m free, but I can’t sprint to my car, I gotta make this look good.” I make it outside and continue the charade of a chat, I do the classic pace back and forth, right in front of their window, I do that for thirty seconds, then make a move to create some distance. My plan is to walk around a couple of cars to get out of sight, but still keep this phone tight to me ear, and keep talking. “How did the dog get out, are you sure you looked everywhere, maybe Shelly can help, I’ll get there as soon as I can.” I get to my car, open the door, sit my tight ass pants in the seat. Boom, end scene. I felt good, but I had to drive out of there first. The silence, the shame of not doing the audition, the reality that this place was a bust, and maybe I’m better off leaving this alone.

I took a long drive back home. Well, I was lost in a part of town I hated and hardly come to. It’s where all the rich assholes live, which was fitting. While I was reflecting I realized I had just went to a “talent” agency to have what I thought was gonna be a (one on one) meeting about my interest in acting or modeling. Instead, it was a mass audition, with no real rhyme or reason. But I found a way out of this by creating a subplot for myself. I created my own improvisation in front of everyone to escape their clutches. They could care less about me, but still, I felt pretty damn good I made something more out of this experience besides reading some bullshit about chicken fingers and green ooze called shaving gel. And I did it because I was nervous, I did it because the vibe felt beneath me, I get the ridiculousness of all of this, but these are the facts of that moment, and my interpretation of the outcome. Crazy, I have no background in acting, nothing but talk, and fantasy. Yet, I still believed enough in my raw emotion, to take a stand for my creative self. And for that I’m proud I did, regardless of how silly, or self-absorbed it sounds. My version of an Artist isn’t about hanging pictures on a wall for the masses to judge, or releasing sounds to match their day. Those things are important, of course. But it has to be bigger than that. Otherwise, a person like myself will always suffer from the let down of completing a piece or a project. The thousands of little heart breaks add up over time and I can’t sustain it year after year.

Maybe these truths never produce an economy of great worth. But in life, I continue to figure out who I am and its through experiences like this I’m able to find humor, and creative moments to grow from. That real experience born from a spontaneous reaction for self-preservation changed a piece of me, good or bad, it’s closer to something else. It’s within the willingness I think we can find truth, and that makes it worth it, for now.

 

 

Big Ears 2017: Outside In Your Head

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Off The Festival Grid To Take In The Sun

Your head can be a space for everything if you’re willing to gift yourself the truth you need to survive these clips. I walked with fire eyes, I birthed the new, and the backdrops played fantastically as our inner demons feasted. The revelation lines thick, and the thesis was centered. My limbs carried my salty year up the gentle hills of a town receiving new members by the second. I was alive with you, and I’m alive now after you, after the fade. When it falls to shade and the air tilts colors, I see it all standing in the streets.

Big Ears 2017 felt like a throwback year. A young festival shouldn’t feel this way, but experimental trips allow themselves some course correction. Last year was my least favorite of all, not a bad time, just comparatively less fun seeing the music. My brother and I were more about the concrete and earth growing over it, we were too chatty and needed more than music, we needed to operate outside the confines of schedules, and release the messy realism we know so well. But this year felt gigantic on a scale of whats been right in the past regarding Big Ears. The social aesthetic, the shine on all the new flare of the city, the co-mingling scenes, new faces, and feeling good. It felt similar to four days in a weird spaceship packed with folks, yet this ship only traverses a couple of square miles, and hovers about 20 ft off the ground, until the night when it feels like you’re at 20,000 ft, and you never want to come down again. It’s safe to keep your festival characters up there though, so go ahead and let them be.

I quit my job last year to stay home with the kids, and work on this whole “struggling” Artist life. My Wife teaches Art in downtown Knoxville, she’s the real thing, and marvelous at her work. We have days of wonder and beauty, we have days of darkness, and regret. But this is life, this is how it works. Well beyond the blog posts, the art, the music, we all have that moment in the day when you truly see life, and you realize its happening, its all happening right now, and you need to peel back layers to feel good about being lost. Because buried in the truth, out there in your head, we are all lost, and that’s a beautiful reality if you learn to explore it. It’s just really scary, so we fill our little buckets of “to-dos” and we work away the soft unspoken stillness in the air. We collectively, and intentionally repress it. The expressions are loud, the movement in the mannerisms say it all, you just have to be willing to see it, and believe it. I think we try to on this weekend b/c the inspirations are so thick and there for us to sponge into our own mind trip, our own curation.

My brother Lee makes the trip every year from Michigan, that’s where I’m from as well. He’s an agricultural professor and organic farmer who launched his first hybrid business of sustainable building and farming last year, called Live Edge Growers. He’s been a farmer for twenty plus years supplying produce to Whole Foods and the like. He’s also a gifted guitarist, and one of my mentors. Big Ears has turned into our weekend, a time for us to melt in the fabric of collective consciousness, to fit into the pretty showing of experimentations, mutated by the creative purveyors at A/C Entertainment. Our discussions cover almost everything, and we own the city free, somewhat able to allow our weird animal spirits a platform to be themselves.  This time we added a bit more “spark” to our mix, and my good friend Adam came from Chicago. Adam’s a city rat, he works in marketing and has the type of gig where he can play ping-pong before he opens his laptop. It’s the kind of spot they have cocktail parties at the end of the day. A white “B-boy” clowning, whose record collection takes up more space in his crib than the furniture. He also produces music, and has been a DJ for close to twenty years.  We met in the music world, throwing parties and deejaying together, real underground shit. This was my mixtape for the weekend, my extreme sides of each half of myself. The quiet meets the loud, the whimsical meets the straight tough lines, with a chameleon in the middle ready and willing to change.

 

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Adam shopping at Wild Honey Records During The Festival Weekend

The lineup this year was curated so well, and thoughtful.  It was a steady climb up into musical BPM, starting early, and ending late. We caught Sir Richard Bishop on Saturday at the newest venue. “The St Johns Episcopal Church has been an anchor congregation of downtown Knoxville since 1826.”  The quiet setting, and history behind the performer and the venue couldn’t have been suited better. I wasn’t familiar with him, but Lee had to see him, since he was someone he looked up to as a player. We caught about half the set. It was pleasant and odd being in the old church. Another great addition to our group this year was Lee’s daughter Iris. It was her first time at the festival, and she’d had a smile most of the day. Perplexing her for well after the show, was the Jeff Tweedy meets Chika Morachi whose soaring noise improvisations left the young girl feeling the buzz and visceral vibrations for much of the day. To see the younger youth feel so much from one show, is certainly a highlight for me. I’m sure she will be back, I hope she will.

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Iris and Lee Standing Next To Sir Richard Bishop @ The Mill and Mine

Saturday at this point was still very much low-key. I was still stung and beaten with Joy from seeing Tortoise the night before, at the Mill And Mine. John McEntire might be my favorite drummer. His career, especially in the Chicago Indie outfit The Sea and Cake, is responsible for much of my musical taste and inspiration in the Arts. They cranked up the festival to a place I yearned for the rest of the weekend. It was never matched but others certainly touched the line in my head. They just flattened things out to normalcy so we could boogie for a while. Likewise, was the booty house set on Saturday Night. I had to miss a few things to dance but seeing  Jace Clayton, PKA DJ Rupture was worth it. His track selection and mixing were good, but I was more curious about him and his philosophy in music. He just released his second book called Uproot: Travels in 21st Century Music and Digital Culture. He appears to have the kind of career in interdisciplinary Art that I seek as well, or at least I admire him for it. The mix of his contribution across the spectrum in creative works made him the most interesting to me. I’m looking forward to reading his book, and I wish I would have caught his lecture at Big Ears. His Deejay set was a dance party, pure and fun as hell.

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DJ Rupture @ The Standard, Knoxville TN

There are so many notable mentions from the weekend. I could talk about how I use to think Wilco was just a popular college rock band I was never going to like. But after seeing them live, I’m blown away, and embarrassed I ever doubted their brilliance. I’m a fan now, and I’d love to see them again. They might have put on the best performance of the weekend. I could also talk about how I gave Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab) directions to the Standard, not knowing it was her. Then after being told it was, I saw her several times hanging out around the city and festival, she stood out like a regal force swaying gracefully amongst the attendees and patrons. In this same city I could go on and on about the moment we walked from the Standard to the Mill and Mine with a group surrounding us, as we beat boxed, sang, and flowed to the movements and sounds of the evening.  We felt alive, we owned our night, and it felt like the prelude to an auspicious year. I could talk about how this was the second year our Dad came for a night, and how awesome he is to participate in this festival. He loves his kids, and his family, so willing to get his ears laced up with sounds he will most likely never hear again, and maybe wouldn’t want to. But there he was, until the late night, a champion for his kids beliefs, and proud of us for being ourselves. He is now part of the tradition, he is now part of the collective creative consciousness we profess our devotion to, as the willing kinds.

Big Ears has so many great things going for it. The weekend is truly a unique experience into the creative mantras of the performers and the attendees. The earth, and build of Knoxville feels special, the city doesn’t turn off for Big Ears, it turns on, and turns up. If you ever get a chance, you should come through our “Scruffy City” and see the “wildlife,” feel the history, and be accepted from whatever part of the world you come from. The arms are open, the feels are real. See you next year!