This isn’t the last…

I’ve been thinking all morning about where to start this. I can’t really decide on an appropriate starting point. How about…

9 years ago I trekked to Los Angeles on a personal adventure and found myself waking up on Sycamore St. in Hollywood. I was in the apartment of my new friend and upcoming professional photographer, Michelle Star. I woke up, kept quiet, got dressed, and walked to Starbucks to start my day. Opportunities abound…

Yesterday I arrived in Los Angeles on a continuation of a personal adventure. Today, I found myself waking up on Sycamore St. in Hollywood. I was in the apartment of my old friend and well known professional photographer, Michelle Star. I woke up, kept quiet, got dressed, and walked to Starbucks to start my day. Opportunities abound…

Too “history repeating”? Hmmm, how about…

I’m sitting in a Starbucks on the corner La Brea & Santa Monica in LA. I’ve sat in this Starbucks before, 2 years ago, while on a break/materials gathering mission while working on a job at Paramount Studios. I can see, from where I am sitting now, the GameStop and Target I went to, looking for a Mad Catz Rock Band Drum Cymbal Extension Kit for the stage I was building for the “Get Schooled” media event (see “Résumé” above).

Funny where you end up sometimes.

Not quite what I was looking for. Just the act of being here is changing how this is progressing, adding new potential to the mental mix.

I’m sitting in a Starbucks in LA, a city I’m on record for not being a huge fan of after living here 9 years ago. I’ve warmed to it a bit in the time since, but it still doesn’t sit right with me. “New York State of Mind” is playing on the radio. I loved living in NYC when I did. It’s not the city for me anymore really, sadly, but I wouldn’t trade the time I spent there for anything, good or bad. As I’m thinking of all those old times, feeling nostalgic, I look out the window to my left. A girl on a fixie just got hammered by a car on the corner of La Brea and Santa Monica Blvd. The car takes off. She is banged up, but ok. Her bike is rough shape. I rush outside to help.

The same thing happened to me 13 years ago on 8th & Broadway in NYC. I’ve told the story a thousand times. I start to wonder if it’s some kind of cosmic sign. My old life and my new life colliding? My past catching up to me? A chance to pay back some karma? I hold the belief that there really is no such thing as coincidence, you just need to be aware and recognize events as they happen, then try and decipher their significance. So now I’m sitting here thinking about what that might be.

A bit esoteric. How about just some recap action?

If you’ve been following this website, blog, journal, experiment, whatever it is, for any length of time, you’ll know that I have a history of being a bit all over the place… in more than just one regard. That wanderlust is seemingly baked in to my DNA/soul/consciousness/whatever. It’s driven by my perpetual feeling of a lack of purpose, or sense of really belonging anywhere. I move around a lot, try new things, and generally try and fill my life with skills and experience.

So now I’m sitting in a familiar Starbucks on La Brea and Santa Monica Blvd in Los Angeles, CA. This morning I woke up on the couch of an old friend, a friend I met here 9 years ago. Yesterday I was walking through the fog in Santa Cruz.  So, just how did I end up in this seat?

Approx 2 years ago: I move from my apartment in Las Vegas, NV to Boston, MA for a shot at a fulltime job at Harmonix Music Systems, Inc. It’s a longshot, but the culmination of a lifetime of freelance work in the videogame event industry. Long story short, I get the job and become the Event Specialist for Harmonix. I go on to help produce events like E3, PAX (East & Prime), and Gamescom. I also slide into a kind of defacto photographer role for the team I’m on.

Approx 6 months ago: I quit my job at Harmonix Music Systems, Inc after the company is sold by MTV/Viacom and internal event production is scaled way down as the studio shifts it’s focus and new partners exert influence. I make the decision to move to Paris, FR for as long as a travel visa will allow. While there, I also travel to places like Cannes, Brussels, Antwerp, NYC, Bierves, Le Mans, etc. While in Paris I work on not just my photography and writing, but on myself. I try and sort out all my personal short-comings, my flaws, my weaknesses… the things I don’t particularly like about myself. I attempt to reconcile the two sides of myself that I feel are constantly at odds with each other. To find some kind of balance. In the process I end up boiling myself down a lot. I discover a lot of things about myself and for the first time in a long time I feel like I have priorities. I solidify some goals, make plans, and feel not only a sense of purpose, but also of belonging and comfort. I start to consolidate and focus on what I want in my life. A new me starts to emerge.

Seattle
Seattle

Approx 1 month ago: I leave Paris bound for Seattle, WA. I’ve spent as much time as I could in Paris without risking deportation. For the first time in a long time though, I don’t want to leave where I am. I actually like Paris and the life that was starting there. Duty calls. I’m headed to see Suki Valentine, a friend from way back, from the old New York days. She’s building and opening a new store in Seattle and I agreed to help out with the opening. She’s offered me a place to stay while I do. Though I’m sad to leave Paris, I am excited at this opportunity. After nearly 5 months of creative and emotional focus, I’m going to see if my practical skills are still sharp. I find that not only are they, but I am able to find some the balance I had been working towards. I start shooting photos for the store after it opens. I build massive playlists and DJ sets as well. I work on social media. I meet a lot of great people and even get a chance to shoot some photography on the set of a film in Olympia. I kind of like Seattle and the potential it presents. I seem to have started down the path I was working towards, but something is missing.

Approx 1 week ago: I leave Seattle, bound for Santa Cruz, CA. The housing thing didn’t quite pan out as expected in Seattle. I slept on the floor of the store a lot. I slept on the couches of new friends. It was fine, I’m adaptable and experienced. I’m good at making due with what is available. The hospitality and kindness shown to me by new friends was amazing. I’m not really comfortable with that for too long though. I don’t like intruding on people’s lives, no matter how much they insist that I’m not.

Patton
Patton

So it was off to Santa Cruz, CA, the home of my best friend, Stephen, his lovely fiancé Heather, and their hilarious Welsh Corgi, Patton. You can read more about that in the post right below this one. There will be another incoming shortly, a follow up on my time spent in Santa Cruz.

Yesterday: It’s an intensely foggy evening in Santa Cruz. Stephen drops me off at San Jose airport and I board a little prop plane bound for Los Angeles, CA. It’s a more introspective flight than usual. Since the plane never clears 25,000ft during the whole flight, I can watch the sun set below the California coastline and the lights of cities twinkle on. The two stewardesses are hilarious. They dole out complimentary drinks with wild abandon. The front cabin stewardess talks like she’s smoked two packs of Camel Light Wides a day since she was born. It was entertaining.

Sunset
San Jose Sunset

The fog is just as intense in LA when we land as it was in Santa Cruz when I left. It lends a kind of quiet to the arrival as we slowly descend though it. You still deplane to the tarmac on flights like this, and we’re all standing in the fog waiting for our luggage to emerge. It’s surreal and still kind of quiet. I get my bag and all that quiet goes away the second I emerge from the other side of LAX. It’s like the car version of white water rapids if it was a race and you were allowed to jump into the rafts from the sidelines. Cacophonous madness, but that’s LA. I knew what I was getting into.

Arrival
Arrival

Michelle and I chat on the drive. We catch up a little bit. I see her new place, drop my stuff. She’s been awake for 25 hours and is out pretty quickly. I drop onto the couch in her living room, putting pretty much everything aside for the evening. Stephen had let me borrow “Do Travel Writers Go To Hell” by Thomas Kohnstamm, so I start in just to see how it is. 3 hours later, I finish it. I start it over again, book marking passages with, appropriately, old boarding passes, airport receipts, and TSA inspection notices. Some of the paragraphs read like I wrote them, or at least like I thought them. Paragraphs like:

I am rarely lonely or depressed when I travel alone – except when I first wake up in the morning. My eyes adjust to the surroundings and I try to figure out where I am and what I’m doing there. One white ceiling with cracked paint is the same as the next. It is also a point in the day when I have too much space to reflect on the events that have led me to where I am, and to think about what else I could be doing with my life.

By the time I was though the second read, it was about 5:00AM. So much for sleep. I hadn’t really eaten all that much in the past day or so either. Sleep was in order. I’d figure out food tomorrow. Dreams were strange. I was up by 10:00AM. And now… here I sit, tip-tapping away, trying to get all this in order. LA is going to be a bit crazy (more on that later).

So yeah, something like that. Not the most detailed of recaps, but you can always just go read the individual posts if you’re interested.

And now we’re caught up a bit. For those that really know me, they know that I am omitting parts of this story, including one of the most important parts, actually, but that’s the way it is for now. The time isn’t quite right for that.

So that’s where I sit, literally. Dinner with my brother tonight and a shoot that starts first thing in the morning.

The clanking of crystal.

So this is the new year. Again. 2009 was a hell of a year for me. My Rock Band year (but that’s a different story/post/whatever). This year hasn’t quite started like I was hoping, but I’m financially in better shape than I thought I would be. That’s at least something. Once of the biggest “looking back” things I’ve been working on is how much I didn’t write this year.

I’ll clarify a bit. I actually did a lot of writing. In fact, I was published multiple times this year over on the RockBand.com ‘Zine. I had a great time writing those articles and the response I got was overwhelmingly positive. I enjoy writing, a lot. The problem is that no one would know that from this website. This blog/journal/whatever it is offers pretty slim pickin’s when it comes to providing solid examples of my literary pursuits. The site is obviously not finished, since work keeps me out on the road so much, but the reality is that there is a single overwhelming reason for the lack of creative writing.

Most of my inspiration for writing is born out of personal experience, as I imagine the case is for most writers. The issue, though, is that I can craft and revise my narrative very quickly in my head. Anyone who hangs out with me knows this. I have a penchant for delivering highly articulated rants and lengthy monologues within minutes of having my imagination sparked or my ire set aflame. Of course, I’m almost never behind a keyboard when this occurs. Even when I plot out the entire course, every detail, of an article in my head I’ll lose the majority of it before I can commit it to any kind of medium. If I could record my thoughts at time of conception, this website would be updated on a daily basis, if not moreso. I usually just find better things to do. My inspiration, or at least my desire to act upon it beyond thought or speech, is fleeting.

A good example is the post just before this one. That entire transcription, from start to finish, occurred in a matter of minutes in a Subway, over a foot-long turkey on wheat with lettuce, tomato, and honey mustard. My next destination just happened to be a Starbucks across the street so I was able to get it down and out quickly. Those are the kinds of things I compose in my mind every day, but never get into any kind of long term form. My next subject, distraction, anything, is just on the horizon and as soon as it comes into focus, the last one is lost.

Even now, in the sidebar of Windows Live Writer, are dozen of drafts for posts I started but never finished. It’s not that I didn’t want to; it’s just that the next best idea for one came on too quickly and I had to shift gears. It’s interesting to me because it’s pretty much the only area of my life where I don’t see a task all the way to its finish.

Something I like about myself, typically, is that I have a pretty strong OCD streak when it comes to my work. I am notoriously meticulous, almost to a fault. I will work to nail down every little detail, tweak every possible option, and adjust anything that can be. I subscribe to a simple philosophy: Perfection is unattainable, but that’s no reason not to try. The devil is in those details. This is especially true when it comes to consumer interaction. I’m tweaking and adjusting things they will never know about, but all those little things will contribute to a better overall experience. The consumer should be totally focused on that experience; the best possible result is what they should be walking away with. The downside is that people I work with think I’m an obsessive nutcase. A lot of people subscribe to a “good enough” mentality and that’s a very hard thing for me to do. My work is a reflection of me; It has to be the best it possibly can be every time.

Anyway, I’m like that it nearly all aspects of my life, except this one. This writing. It kills me. I’ll spend hours creating highly specialized metatags and non-existent sub-genres of music to keep my iTunes library in a ridiculously precise order. I even hacked in half-star ratings for more rating structure control. I can’t take 30 minutes to commit thought to word though.

Twitter helps a little bit. I’ll send the base ideas out for later cataloguing, hoping I can respark interest in a later date or letting me get the gist of something out there. It’s not a substitute, but at least it’s something. I suppose. It’s not like giving up twitter would help, all those things would just back up and get lost in my mental æther.

Let’s take a look at what I can remember (at the moment) not writing about this year:

  1. My Rock Band Year. (This may still happen)
  2. The total eclipse of Helio. (An ongoing battle)
  3. Hello East Coast, I missed you… kind of. (I’ve been back for two months)
  4. The Take Away. (Needs to still happen, more site related)
  5. Leaving Las Vegas, without the drinking myself to death part. (See “Hello East Coast”)
  6. Observations on human proximity.
  7. A guide for the unexpectedly freelance. (Been working on this for too long)
  8. “I just kind of fell into it.”: Observations on employment.

Alright, this is a great example right here. Everything prior to this sentence was written a week ago. A solid week. In that time I’ve wanted to write about like, 15 new things, but I knew I still had this to finish. At this point, having been removed from the writing and the mood I was in when I was composing, I, of course, am not nearly as committed to it as I was during mid-creation.

Fortunately, as I re-read this, I’m not completely disgusted by it (only partially). The fact that you’re reading it means that I didn’t hate it enough to not publish it and saw to it that I at least attempted to complete it. I suppose that’s a good start for the year.

I still have so much to do around here. Little things, like the fact that this site doesn’t display to my satisfaction on my netbook (right gutter needs to be narrowed) and that while my portfolio is constantly expanding I need to work on the fact that my professional persona is more than just the sum of my contracts. The cold, hard, facts only paint part of the picture. They are what I do, not who I am.

So, anyway. I have tons more to write about but this particular document it already an idiotically long wall of text. If you’re just scanning over it:

TLDR Version:

The writing process is the one aspect of what I do that constantly evades my meticulous, OCD, perfection seeking, nature. I’m working on it. I promise.

Can’t Stop… Somethin’…

So, first off, Total Rock, Total Rewards 2009 was, in actuality, Total Awesome 2009. Easily one of the best jobs I’ve ever worked and one of the best projects I’ve ever worked on. The people i worked with were all amazing and the bands who participated, in every venue, were some of the coolest people I’ve ever met. Huge grats to The Gurn Killers from my long-lost NYC for taking home $10,000 and putting on an awesome show at The House of Blues in Atlantic City opening for The B52’s. There are still reports and interviews and pics coming in, but here’s some links to catch you up on all the madness.

I promise to get more links in here later. There are tons of pics on FaceBook at the moment so it’s gonna take a while to pull together that much linkage.

In other news, I’m currently out on the Can’t Stop Rockin’ tour with REO Speedwagon, Styx, and .38 Special overseeing the activation and management of one of the custom Rock Band stages from last year’s Rock Band Live! tour. It’s certainly an interesting time. Not exactly my cup-o-tea demographically or music-taste-wise, but they can’t all be. It’s just strange for me to be around that many drunk/stoned baby boomers, especially since they just kind of stare at the RB stage dumbfounded most of the time. Before it took this gig i predicted to myself that this gig would probably just end up as glorified daycare for the kids who’s parents dragged them to the show. That prediction has been dead on so far. The biggest issue really is that the gig isn’t really practical as a one-man-show, which is how it’s currently being executed (by me). Oh well, the production crew is friendly and I’m done on May 30th so it’ll at least be 100% until then.

In other, other, news, i just bought a Dell Mini 9 and I’m already in love with it. I was worried about the size compared to the Mini 10, but after discovering that the Mini 10 was not upgrade/hack friendly and finding a perfectly configured Mini 9 on the Dell Outlet site, i had to just go for it. It wasn’t out of the box for 5 minutes before i dropped an extra gig of RAM into it and it never even got booted to it’s pre-installed Windows XP OS. I dropped Windows 7 Release Client into it first thing (with a sweet USB hack) and never looked back. It’s runs like a dream. Next upgrade is the SSD from 8GB to 32GB. I ordered the drive already and hopefully it’ll make it out to me during this three day stretch in California. Once i have that installed i can drop all my favorite apps onto it. I’m using a 16GB SD card as storage, so the total of 48GB will serve me fine. I’m a huge stickler for efficiency and clean HDs, so i clean out my systems and HDs religiously. I can’t wait to start using it as my regular road computer and seeing what it can handle. Here’s a pic of it next to my current road system, my trusty Dell XPS M1210.

M1210_And_Mini9_Small