Here’s some scenes from life the last couple months.
Here’s some scenes from life the last couple months.
Last month I finally launched my podcast, Urban Achiever. You can download or stream the first episode with Ethan Luck (Dingees, Supertones, Relient K) here. It is also available on iTunes. New episodes with Mark Salomon (The Crucified, Stavesacre) and Sean O’Donnell (Dogwood, Reeve Oliver) are coming in January 2015.
Let’s just get this out of the way. I am not an animal person. I think puppies and kittens and bunny rabbits are all cute, to be sure. I’m not a monster! But when my friends who love their pets tell me about their hundred and thousand plus dollar vet bills all I can do is scratch my head. When I tell them I think it’s crazy to spend that kind of money on an animal, they give me the same type of spiel that parents (I don’t have kids) give me about not understanding -insert issue relating to children here- because I’m not a parent. Whatever. I don’t love animals.
At several points in my life I have “gone Vegetarian”, including when I was in the Army and would be regularly ridiculed by my fellow soldiers in the mess hall for my food choices. I have been overweight for most of my twenties, all of my 30’s and into my 40’s (I will be 46 this year). I have done every diet in the book. Atkins, South Beach, Low Carb, High Carb, Master Cleanser “Lemonade Diet”, Juice diet, etc. My wife says she has “lost track” of what I eat or don’t eat and I think has pretty much had it with all my failed attempts at sticking with something.
At my heaviest, I was probably around 315-320 and wearing 3XL shirts and size 54 pants. I have been on blood pressure and cholesterol medication for about 20 years now. I’m currently between 275-280 and wearing size 42 pants and 2XL shirts. I’ve lost over 30 pounds since keeping track. So, I’ve made some progress.
I went back to being Vegetarian at the beginning of this year. I’ve been at it for almost 7 months now and I’m finally feeling like I’m in the zone. I’m also back in the gym 5-6 days a week (crucial). I’ve been playing the drums which is fun and has also been great exercise.
I tend to be very extreme in my life. I use a lot of gross generalizations about pretty much everything. I’m very black and white without much gray. I don’t enjoy people who have a hard time making a decision. For better or worse I am “all in” and “what you see is what you get.” This would probably be fine if I actually stuck with something! So, I’m trying to change.
The reason I brought up the animal issue in the beginning is that I’m toying with the idea of giving up dairy, which would make my diet Vegan. I eat eggs and yogurt on pretty much a daily basis. I have cheese, but not a ton. At this point, after 7 months, I don’t think I would miss it that much. My hope in doing this is to get to my goal weight of 200 pounds (what I weighed at 19 when I was in the Army and in peak physical shape) and get off all the pills! That’s it.
My problem is that I am really put off by a lot of people who are Vegans. They tend to be very self-righteous (especially when it comes to the animal part) and in a lot of cases worse than uptight right-wing born-again evangelicals. Yuck.
Case in point, I recently picked up a book by New York hardcore band Cro-Mags frontman John Joseph called “Meat Is For P–sies“. I ran across a post on social media where person after person (who had not even read the book) was condemning him and the book claiming he was a lot of terrible things (misogynistic, homophobic and on and on). They don’t even know the guy! I think context is important and matters. The book title is a jab at all the men who called the author a “p–sy” over the years for not eating meat. It’s obviously meant to also catch attention. It’s not my job to defend him, but there’s plenty of things in the world to be upset about and this book title is not even on the list as far as I’m concerned.
I’m fairly low key about what I eat. I just do my thing. I don’t tell other people what they should eat or not eat. I don’t care. And I really don’t enjoy a lot of questions about what I’m eating or not eating and why. It’s hard enough eating Vegetarian with all the questions. If I make the transition to Vegan then I feel like I will really be between a rock and a hard place. I guess I just need to get over it and do what I feel like I need to do for my own health. I like that Joseph doesn’t refer to himself as a “Vegan,” but rather says he follows a whole-foods plant-based diet. I can get down with that.
I have been tracking (for those of you interested in this stuff) a lot of what I’ve been eating and my progress on an Instagram account called VegYear. You can check that out or follow along if you like. I’m feeling pretty good and encouraged that I might finally hit my goals once and for all.
If somebody thinks I’m doing it because I’m an animal lover, I guess I will have to live with that. Just don’t call me a Vegan!
I am a student of life.
I am a high school graduate, but I never went to college. I have made an attempt to never stop learning. Equally important, I believe, is to never hold on too tightly to what you think you know about people, life, religion or any other facet of life. Experience has a way of changing opinions and beliefs over time. Columbus and people of his time literally thought the world was flat! That’s one reason why I cringe when I see very young people covering themselves with tattoos. You don’t even know who you are yet! Give it some time. I know having “Straight Edge” emblazoned across your chest seems like a great idea at 18 or 19 years old. But you might want to have a beer in the decades that follow.
Yesterday at my school (I manage a rock music school) I made a comment about sitar’s and “Middle Eastern music” and was quickly schooled by two of my instructors (both in their early 20’s and of Egyptian descent) about how I’m probably talking about an oud because sitar’s are from India (a completely different geographic region). See what I could have learned in a ethnomusicology class?! Hey, it only took me 45 years to learn about sitar’s, oud’s and raga’s (not just a word in a line from a Clash song, incidentally)! Fun!
Am I going to go out and buy the entire Ravi Shankar discography (did you know Ravi was Nora Jones’ father?) today? Pretty unlikely. I actually think I prefer the sound of an oud over a sitar (now that I know the difference). That’s not really the point. Knowledge is power. Also, knowing things about many subjects (and cultures) helps you to better relate to others and to be a better, fuller and more complete human.
I love in the movie “Grosse Pointe Blank” when hit man for hire, Martin Blank’s (played by John Cusack) girlfriend Debi accuses him of being a “psycho” and he responds by saying “don’t rush to judgment on something like that until all the facts are in.”
I think that’s a great philosophy to follow while navigating the age of internet hoaxes and public shaming via social media. Do some research. Ask around. Be willing to learn from anybody about anything. Never stop learning.
Finally, I leave you with something I thought we’d never see, an oud (on the left) and a sitar (on the right) together in the same room! :)
Time is not on your side.
One thing you start to notice as you get older is that time begins to compress. What feels like a month is 3 months. What feels like 6 months is a year. It’s just the way it is.
Last year when I was unemployed for 9 months I transcribed my tour journal from a tour my old band, Blenderhead, did back in 1995 (see Bottle Breaker Book Announcement). Next year is the 20th anniversary of that tour which seems impossible to me. 2 decades! The years are like a vapor.
Since that is the case, it’s important to make every day and every moment count. Our years on this earth disappear in what seems like an instant when you look back.
It’s all too easy to fall into the grind of birth, school, work and death. If you’re not careful, you can easily just go from day to day without noticing the miracles around you. Gravity, oxygen, vision, grace.
I’m going to try to make today count.
Last summer I ran across my handwritten journal from the Blenderhead / MxPx national tour in 1995. I transcribed the journal, added current notes, photos and other items of interest. Next year will be the 20th anniversary of this tour. It’s really hard to imagine that is even possible!
Anyway, I’m in the final stages of putting this thing together. It will be available on Amazon as an e-book and will also be available in paperback. I am going to sign a number of copies which I will be selling directly from this website.
I am in the process of writing a 2nd book that covers my entire musical journey of the last 40 years. My hope is to finish that book before the end of this year.
I don’t have an official release date for Bottle Breaker yet, but it will be before summer is over. For updates on what I have going on, please connect with me on Facebook, Twitter or join my E-Mail List.
My friend and former boss, Fitz, was in town this week. It was a last minute trip and it was great to catch up. Beers, cupcakes and Italian food were all consumed.
We made a trek into The City, to Sirius XM for an interview he was taping for the Liquid Metal show. When we were on the train platform a fan recognized him. Those interactions are always so strange. It seemed like a set up or something scripted, like a prank I set up.
I’ve been in and around music for over 30 years now. I have accepted and am grateful that every single significant relationship of my life is related to that in some way.
The downside is that we’re all scattered from state to state, place to place. I am lucky that I live in close proximity to NYC where many of them regularly travel for “business”.
Here’s to old friends, music and memories!