The show last night at Space 15 Twenty was a blast! Thanks to everyone who made it out! It was an honor to share some walls with Septerhed, Ginoflo and Phobik!
The show last night at Space 15 Twenty was a blast! Thanks to everyone who made it out! It was an honor to share some walls with Septerhed, Ginoflo and Phobik!
"Alas for those that never sing, But die with all their music in them."
- Oliver Wendell Holmes
Good luck on your journey. When you get there I'm told that the water tastes amazing not because it's somehow special or magical, but because it was earned with each step into the perilous. Earned water always tastes the best. But beware, it's just a fountain, it's not the ending. Even once you've found greatness, there's still more journey to go. Life isn't just the pursuit of greatness and you might be disappointed by the fleeting satisfaction when you find out there's more miles to trek. Only this time, it's harder to see what else lies ahead.
I sound like the knight from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
"Our dependency makes slaves out of us, especially if this dependency is a dependency of our self-esteem. If you need encouragement, praise, pats on the back from everybody, then you make everybody your judge."
- Fritz Perls
September 10th was national World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide prevention is a cause that means a lot to me. A lot of my work centers around acting as a friendly voice of encouragement to those on the brink of giving up. The goal has always been to remind people that there is always hope. It may seem meager and timid to the darkness, but hope is real and it's birthed in every second, every breath, every opening of the eyes. The writer, Rebecca Solnit wrote "Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth's treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal... To hope is to give yourself to the future - and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable." What a beautiful sentiment. Remember those words in the moments that you feel like giving up. And when you cannot, reach out. Ask for help. There's no shame in it, there's no reason to be self-conscious. We just need help sometimes. It doesn't make you weak, it makes you human. So if you need someone to talk to, you can visit ImAlive.org where you can chat with someone who wants to hear you. Who's ready to listen and help you up.
In life, sometimes we can find ourselves defined by the things that we keep hidden. The secret shame, the unspoken regret, the unhealthy habit, the hidden wound. These are the things that when kept quiet can slowly eat at us and take us apart piece by piece. Sometimes the fear of revealing one's self can be the fear of a genuine consequence. People may respond negatively. However, often, people keep secrets because of a perceived consequence, they worry that people will judge them but in truth, it's something others relate to and could offer a relief from their burden. Sometimes we keep secrets because deep down we know that by revealing them, we would have to confront something and therefore have to change. To me, a REAL friend or partner is someone who let's you know that they are not afraid to love you, despite what your secrets are. Despite the things that you've lived a life ashamed of or embarrassed by. The person who wants to know the person you really are, not the person you want people to think you are. It takes a lot of courage to lower your armor. It takes a lot of strength to admit one's weakness. But when you find those people in your life who allow you to shed the secrets that weigh you down, it's a freedom in discovering that someone thinks you're pretty, even without the makeup.
In the (amazing) film Boyhood, there is a line that the father says to his teenage son, still reeling from the breakup with his high school girlfriend. He says: “We’re all just winging it. The good news is you’re feeling stuff, you know? And you’ve got to hold on to that. You get older, and you don’t feel as much, your skin gets tough." This line, among the many that I appreciated from the film, seemed to typify much of my experience growing up. When I look back at my childhood, so much of it is the sense that everything emotion I was experiencing was cranked up to eleven. The teachers I viewed as fascists, the opinions on art and culture that I felt EVERYONE needed to have, the heart break I thought would define me for the rest of my life. Looking back now I see how silly all of it was. Part of me misses the beauty of the raw emotion, unfiltered by perspective and wisdom. Part of me misses the depth of feelings and their catastrophic effect on my world, and yet, it's such a relief to not feel like a slave to them. Growing up and navigating life is like learning to drive a car in a Formula One racer that goes from zero to 60 in three seconds. Eventually you have to figure out how to slow it down. This doesn't mean we should all start driving mini-vans instead, but life can't feel like we're always one pump of the pedal away from losing control and crashing into a wall. I want to feel things, but I don't want them to dictate my life, which is something I guess you can only really notice in retrospect. When you can look back and laugh at how much we let the constantly fluctuating emotions pull us into ever deepening distress. It's good to look back and laugh I think. It's also good to know that some day, maybe some day soon- you'll look back at today and laugh even harder.
"The only good luck many great men ever had was being born with the ability and determination to overcome bad luck."
- Channing Pollock
Throwback to my NYC trip. One last little piece I hadn't posted yet.
Printed up some of these at business card size. I'll be going to a few shops around LA and sticking a couple in with the store's business card stack. Discovery amongst a crowd is what this slogan is all about so it seemed fitting.
I took part in an awesome show called SKATE & CREATE at the Flower Pepper Gallery! A TON of amazing artists had custom skateboard decks on display! This is a photo of me holding mine. It's called "How I Know I'm Alive." The show was curated by G. James Daichendt (author of Stay Up! And Shepard Fairey Inc.) and is rad to the nth degree.
Here's the description...
"The skateboard culture of Southern California played a seminal role in the early influences of many graffiti and street artists. The growth of the sport, or anti-sport, along with its strong visual component, represented a renegade vigilante attitude, like punk and while every skater was not a criminal, the graphics on the boards often abused copyright or represented darker and more anti-authoritarian attitudes. This exhibition of street art and street inspired graphics symbolizes these rich origins and pushes forward a new generation of sleek, cool, fun, and taboo imagery on skate decks that epitomizes both sub-cultures."
It's running until October 3rd. Check it out! 121 E Union St, Pasadena, CA 91103. For more info visit www.flower-pepper.com!
I couldn't decide between two quotes to accompany this- but then I realized how well they complement each other...
“First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
"Cause the players gonna play, play, play. And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate. Baby I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake. Shake it off, shake it off."
- Taylor Swift
"Isn't it the moment of most profound doubt that gives birth to new certainties? Perhaps hopelessness is the very soil that nourishes human hope; perhaps one could never find sense in life without first experiencing its absurdity."
- Vaclav Havel
Sample questions to which "just because" is the appropriate answer.
1. Why are you wearing your Spider-Man Halloween costume in June?
2. Why do you have to sing along impassionately with every Hall & Oates song you hear, even if it's in line to pay at Costco?
3. Why do you get so many nose bleeds at inopportune times?
4. Why is it a vital necessity to finish an entire pint of Ben & Jerry's once you've opened it?
5. Why do you like listening to your cat drinking water so much?
6. Why do you know every lyric to the song "Save the Best For Last" by Vanessa Williams?
7. Why do you have to fight the urge to drive home rather than use someone else's bathroom at a dinner party?
8. Why does it matter so much who would win in a fight between two fictional characters?
The list goes on.
If you read the news, it's been a particularly horrifying couple weeks. Between Ferguson and the Gaza situation and ISIS, it's a wonder any of us can even get out of bed. It's not difficult to find depressing stories day-to-day, but we seem to be in a perfect storm of anger and pain and loss at the moment. Today they're having the funeral for Michael Brown and it's hard to know what to say. I have never really considered myself a voice in these matters, so pontificating seems tasteless. The only solace I can muster is that it takes heartbreaking moments like these to see even small increments of progress. These are the moments that shift the culture and shape our collective perspective. Even when justice seems to be absent, the world's psyche starts slowly evolving. I know a lot of people will/should say "But did Rodney King and Trayvon Martin and Oscar Grant really change anything?" Here we are again and it seems that very little is different" and they're right. I can only say that we live in a country where people are afraid. To me, that's what prejudice is: fear. Fear of losing grip of the status quo, fear of having a lifestyle we're not comfortable with imposed upon us, and that ever-present primal distrust of a cultural tribe that we don't belong to. These moments in history are what we use to remind us that we are all in this together. Regardless of race, sexual orientation, creed, we are all in this big ocean liner together and changing directions is slow and frustrating but as we shift our perspective, I'd like to think that we would start seeing ourselves as one wonderfully diverse group, as opposed to a collection of different groups, all inhabiting the same planet. It sounds so naively idealistic when you say it out loud but what other options do we have? I suppose I'd rather chase naive ideals than embittered resignation. Alfred North Whitehead once said "No period of history has ever been great or or ever can be that does not act on some sort of high, idealistic motives, and idealism in our time has been shoved aside, and we are paying the penalty for it." He said that in 1944. I guess we're still paying the price.
As a kid I used to call the local radio station and dedicate songs to the girl I had a crush on and pray that the romantic power of "I Swear" by All 4 One would make her fall madly in love with me. It did not. Nevertheless, '90s R&B holds a special place in my heart. So I'm gonna dedicate the classic hit by Salt-N-Peppa (ft En Vougue), "Whatta Man" to my wife. Just swap "man" for "woman" and ignore the line "a body like Arnold with a Denzel face." Love ya darlin!
Those little annoyances that seem to always happen at the worst times? No one is exempt from them. Remembering that may not make them less frustrating in the moment, but at least you'll have perspective that it's just part of being alive.
I'm not really a social person. It's not that I don't have the ability to socialize, it's just that it takes work. Like a muscle that I have to consciously keep tensed. For the most part I find myself retreating to the safety of solitude. When I was a kid I had my mom sign me up for little league. I've never been very athletic, which is not a big deal if you're not on the best little league team in what seemed like the history of planet earth. I apparently was. I played the crucial position of inventing plausible reasons for why I didn't catch whatever was hit in my direction. "Agh, man- it's these damn shoe laces!" or "my glove, I think it's broken!" When it came to batting, we'd literally go through the entire team roster- I'd be the first strike out, then the second, then the third. At the post game victory parties at Pizza Hut, I knew what a sham it was that I was even allowed to be in the same restaurant franchise as my teammates, let alone partake in a slice of triumphant pepperoni. They'd be recalling their amazing, instant replay worthy catches and their bat shattering home runs. And I'd be that small voice muttering as the cheers faded "Damn shoe laces." The thing is, the greatest disappointment of it all wasn't really my lack of skill, it's that it wasn't anything like The Sandlot. I had gone into it thinking I was like the shy kid in that movie who discovers not only a love of baseball, but a group of life-long friends who truly make him feel like he belongs. Where he's wanted. What a crock. As I've gotten older I realized it's important for me to feel wanted. Since I have no qualms (and often prefer) being alone, I only ever want to be somewhere if the people really want me to be there. It's not that I need to be the center of attention, it's just that I've spent a fair amount of my life feeling extraneous and vulnerable to one kind of rejection or another. When I'm alone I feel safe. I'm unshackled from self-consciousness and in that freedom, I find a productivity rarely encountered in groups. Einstein once said "I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity." He probably sucked at little league too.
This strikingly beautiful model (my wife) is wearing a t-shirt I designed for the suicide prevention organization Hope For The Day who are selling the shirts for 15 bucks at www.hftd.org
All proceeds go to benefit suicide prevention and I think that's pretty dang cool.
Yesterday brought the tragic news of the loss of Robin Williams. Having not known him personally, the most difficult part for me (as I imagine so many others) is coming to terms with the loss not only of person he was, but the person I'd created him to be from the patchwork of characters he'd invented. I just kept thinking- "No, John Keating from Dead Poets Society doesn't kill himself, Will Hunting's therapist doesn't kill himself, the Genie doesn't kill himself!" and then I'm faced with the truth, which is that the hero we create is often quite a distance from the spirit that inhabits their bodies. Depression can be like an addiction in that, in the thick of it, it's difficult to know just how to crawl out of the ever deepening pit, but like addiction it's important to create mental weapons for yourself with which to battle with. It's also vital to have people to reach out to that can bring you down, give you perspective and help pull you out of the pit. I recently created a slogan that says "despair is a thief that shall steal our days no longer", never forget that it's also a liar- trying to convince us that the fight's not worth it. But it is. We lost a brilliant, kind, generous person who gave the world so many different people to love and cherish and learn from- I only wish he knew he was one of them. Maybe he did. Only he and his close loved ones will ever be able to answer the questions filling all of our minds with any degree of certainty. For us though, the ones left picking up the pieces of a childhood dream of who this man was and how he made us feel- strong, safe- as though we could fly like Peter Pan, we're only left with that strange hollow feeling that something is missing now. Sometimes the heroes, the ones we count on, they need help too. It's in those moments that we receive their greatest gift, the realization that we have the strength to rescue them back. That all along, we had the power to be knights in shining armor ourselves. And in the times we fail to, we must know that there are still ways to be of service- I've worked with some wonderful organizations that help to prevent suicide. ImAlive.org and HFTD.org are both great. You can also visit Suicidepreventionlifeline.org to see how to help as well. One thing seems certain though, we may have lost the man who created them, we haven't lost what he created. The roles that gave so many joy and hope and endless laughs- they're still with us, still part of us, still rescuing us. And they always will be. "O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done; The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won."
A Morley Man who landed in the New York subway. He was very worried about being confused for a terrorist and quickly arrested and taken to a New York jail and questioned for hours before confessing to a long series of unrelated regrets, like Chunk in Goonies.
Luckily it didn't come to that.