Somethin’ to Say

BREAKING NEWS: NEW JERSEY IS WAGING A WAR ON POT HOLES

Hide yo kids, hide yo wife! The pot holes are taking over and there is little we can do to stop them! I predict by 2015 they will have conquered most of the country. We can kiss our freedom goodbye.

But no joke, I saw this sign on the Parkway the other day. And yes, the potholes often cause aggravated road rage, flat tires and in worst cases accidents, but isn’t it a little dramatic to say we’re waging a war? I personally think the whole thing is a conspiracy theory crafted by the CEO’s of the tire companies to raise sales. Or maybe it’s just our government thinking of creative ways to up the volume of driving tickets. Or perhaps the social workers running the state mandated anger management classes (probably not), but regardless, it’s outta control! Even the recent patch work sinks back into pot hole form in a matter of days. What’s happening people?!! It seems a bit sketchy if ya ask me….

Enough about pot holes, they take up too much thought as it is. Here’s a simple life tip I tried a few days ago and I’d like to share it with everyone. Take a piece of paper and fold it down the middle. On one side write “uplifting” and on the other side write “weighing me down” or whatever version of these words you’d like to use (be creative). On the “uplifting side” write all the good things you can think about. Here’s mine:

Uplifting

Every member of my family with an emphasis on Riley Angie (No offense everyone else)

My friends. No matter how far away, I have no idea how I got so lucky

Lionel Haberstein…You know who you are

My jobs. I love being busy and am thankful that when I need it, money comes.

Animals. God, I love em’!

Nature. It’s never enough I always crave more…

Love. It surrounds me every day in every way

Strangers. Our awkward conversations mean more than you’ll ever know

Art. Write every day. Read every day.

Memories. Thought transcends time

Now I’m sure you guys know what’s next….

Weighing me down

My disorganization and ability to lose things

Sometimes I think so much I become detached from life

My naivety and innate impulse to trust anyone

Pollution

Litter

The power I give others to make me feel insecure

The simultaneous surplus of food and hunger on this planet

Shallowness/Judgment

Impatience

Toxicity (In people, food and air)

The lists go on….Having this visual not only encourages me to pick up trash on the littered side walk, it also makes me more aware of the beauty which exists in every moment of my life. My goal is to one by one, cross off as many negatives as possible and to never stop adding to the positives. If every day is a commitment to self improvement, anything is possible. No one is perfect, but we do all have a shot at doing the best we can and isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?

Another life tip if you’re willing to be bold: I’ve been turning my phone off for periods of 5+ hours every day. Then I turn it back on for 10 minutes, contact my peeps and turn it back off. It’s as liberating as running through an open field in your undies.

MAKE YOURSELF

Nature: The All Powerful

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“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
― Albert Einstein

DISCLAIMER: It goes without saying that everything I write is subject to my perception. You are your own person. Think what you want. Believe what you want. I do not wish to offend, only to offer my words. Use them how you’d like. Or don’t.

I was sitting next to my dad listening to the calming rhythm of the waves when he said: “Linds, why do humans think we’re at the top of the food chain? We’re not.”

We do not own the earth. The earth owns us. We expand beaches only to watch them recede, build infrastructure that cannot withstand the force of a tornado, pollute the air without realizing we are polluting our bodies and mold food that’s supposed to nourish into an edible poison. The repercussions of these actions can be felt on a daily basis and are contributing to the fall of human longevity and this phase of the planet.

These factors and more take away from our perception of life. They compromise our health and happiness, our ability to breathe. It is deemed that we are “destroying the planet,” but ultimately we are just depriving ourselves of a pure life experience. The earth will be okay regardless of what we put it through. There will be an ice age or a big bang or some other cataclysmic happening which will breed new life and another chance. Mother Nature will revel in her regeneration and laugh at the power we thought we had. The sun, the tide, the wind, the pull, they or some other version of them will all be here. We won’t.

So readers, what are these words about anyway? Am I just writing to wallow in our predisposed self destruction?  Not at all. I’m just asking you to pick up the trash you see, find a way to recycle, don’t throw cigarette butts out the window, carpool if you can and just try your best to give yourself and others a more natural time on this planet. Let’s live with the earth. Let’s rejoice with the rising sun and breathe in the mountain air. It’s all we have.

The Beatles, Mother Nature’s Son

Love

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^The most perfect love^

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

My friend requested I write a blog about love and my first thought was: how? How do I condense the most crucial element of our existence? How do I put into words something we feel, but can’t understand? I’m not so sure…

I’ve been in love before, but I’m no expert. Are any of us? I would like to meet the person who has this crazy push and pull all figured out, but I’m afraid they don’t exist. For once you get a grip on what “love” is, the beauty of it diminishes.

The only thing I can say about this sacred intangible, is that it  leaves me fully  immersed in the present.  When I’m in love, time freezes and I can’t think. It’s hard for me to recall my most love filled moments.  I’ve been so lost in another soul that I’ve escaped my body and left the state of conscious awareness. I’m a compulsive over thinker; the times when I can’t think are the ones I cherish most.

I also believe love exists not to change another, but to become your best self. We learn about ourselves more through shared experience than we ever could from isolation. Love teaches you what you want. It shapes your ideals and most of all, gets you to grow into a better person. You learn to give and take in a delicate balance which can’t be learned another way.

There’s also the kind of love that does the opposite. This kind makes one question everything they are. It puts a soul at turmoil, causes one to be uncharacteristically impulsive. I try and avoid this kind of love because it’s toxic and blocks the truest love there is: the love for oneself. Self love and respect are perhaps the only standards more important than love for another. They are the foundation for all things right and honest. The truest form of love can not exist without them.

“The heart wants what the heart wants.” We have little to no control over love. The best we can do is try and embrace it without question. Be engaged in the present and feel, but remain keen to blindness and deception. Lose yourself in someone else without losing yourself. It’s the only way.

The relationships we have with ourselves are the only constants in the world. Embrace yours. Do things alone. Be okay with it. Lately I’ve been  alone more than ever. When I’m alone music is better. Nature is better. New York City is better. The library is better. I explored a castle in Connecticut by myself a few months ago and couldn’t have asked for a better day.

So how did this blog about love turn into a blog about the self? I guess that’s just where I am in  life right now. I feel love for most things I do and most places I visit. My love is more dispersed than its ever been . I feel more gratitude for everything around me than I ever have. Each night, the stars in the winter sky remind me to love every moment of it. And I try.

As you know, I love you all! Thanks for getting my blog to over 1,000 views. Love equals Life. Spread it wherever and whenever you can.

* This man gets it

And this one!

Books and Beats

So I’ve always been obsessed with music, but lately I’ve been a whole new kind of fiend. I use everything as an excuse to listen to more and more. EVERYTHING is better with it flowing through my ears! Now during other periods of my life I couldn’t find as much time to listen. Here’s a list of ways to integrate music into your daily routine:

-Driving (Take the Long Way Home – song title pun intended)

-Laundry is ALWAYS better with some Bob in the background (There are many great Bobs to choose from!)

-Eating (Food and music, music and food. What more could you want?)

-Adult Activities (Drinking wine, discussing politics and of course the ones that are too mature for this family friendly blog)

-Writing/Editing (Doing whatever you do best)

-Getting ready to go out (Just don’t dance while applying mascara. Your unpoked eye will thank me)

-Work (Find a way even if you have to hide it. It may save you from hating your life!)

-Sports/Fitness (This one is obvious)

-Cooking (Nothin’ better than a vegetarian veggie medley cooked in the presence of Motown)

-Straight chillin’ (Perhaps the best time to listen to music. Enough said)

I’m also addicted to reading. What draws me most to these two art forms is their ability to transcend. They take us to another place without physically traveling. They transcend through time, circumstance and even death. You can read a book your grandfather read, listen to a song your kids will one day hear. It’s amazing, truly amazing.

Now here are some creative places to read:

-In line for anything (I bring a book to most places I go. Why wait when you can read?!)

-Doctor’s Office (So now that two hour wait turns into a two hour adventure!)

-Family functions (This can be kind of rude, but hey sometimes it’s worth it. Just make sure you aren’t bringing your favorite novel on the altar of your friend’s wedding)

-Class (If you can study yourself and hide a book in your lap. Doodling gets old fast)

-At the mall (I hate shopping)

People, I’d like to know how, where and what you’re listening to! I’d also like to know who and how you’re reading! As someone famous once said: “So many books, so little time.” I’m going to slap a semi colon on that bad boy and add so much music so little time to complete it. Books and beats are the two loves of my life. Let’s celebrate them!

Here’s what I’ve been listening to:

-SO much Motown (emphasis on Smokey Robinson)

-Lots of Zeppelin (Tracks: Misty Mountain Hop, Four Sticks and When the Levee Breaks have spoken to me)

-Incubus( I’m on the S.C.I.E.N.C.E phase of my cyclical Incubus rotation)

-Jewell and Alanis (Hell yeah female empowerment!)

-Godsmack/ Stain’d (Earthday Birthday Memories)

-The Four Seasons (This music will be relatable no matter how many years pass)

-Bush, Soundgarden, Rage, Audioslave, Nirvana (Nothing like 90’s grunge and I love Bush IDC!)

-311 (Duh)

-BEATLES (The best band of all time. Right now I’m most diggin’ “And I love Her” and “I’ll Follow the Sun”)

-Taylor Swift (Did I say Hell yeah female empowerment already?)

-Michael Jordan (Not the BBALL player)

-Explosions in the Sky (You know, for those moments when lyrics aren’t necessary)

-BOB MARLEY! (Kaya is a great album)

Alright this list can literally go on for the rest of my life so I’ll stop. Here’s a much shorter list of what I’ve been reading.

-Twain (Tom Sawyer. It’s crazy how his analyses of the human condition are still spot on in the present)

-King( Thinner! READ IT! Did anyone else in our “book club” read it yet? Haha)

-Kahled Hosseini (1000 Splendid Suns. One of the best books I’ve read. Great mix of history and emotion)

– Lauren Oliver (Before I Fell .Read it in two days. You will too!)

-Hemingway (The Old Man and the Sea- No words can describe how awesome this book is!)

Okay so here’s the end to the longest blog ever. Tell me what you’re reading and listening to, but most of all: ENJOY IT FOLKS!

A very cool person sent me this video. The only thing I’d add would be some awesome music in the background. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhhwgprsMAk

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BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT!

Book Announcement

Hello friends!

Today marks a monumental day in history for me. At 4:01 pm on February 13, 2014, I finished writing my first novel.  Sure, there’s many months of editing and re-editing and re-re editing ahead, but the first step is off the list! It’s a pretty surreal feeling and I’m still trying to take it all in, but WHO WANTS TO CELEBRATE?!!! YIPEE!!!!!!

I would like to thank my life-long friend and first fan: Johanna Lockwood. Without you Jo, I would have fallen victim to a forgotten dream and missed opportunity. Your support has meant more to me than you’d ever know. I also want to thank my dad for reading every day and believing in me so much and for NCG for teaching me the power of commitment and the limitlessness of possibility!

When I have enough edited I may post a preview on my blog so stay tuned! Regardless, I’ll post updates on completion and publishing for whoever wants to read it!

Thank you everyone for being you! Without all of you constantly testing and teaching me, I wouldn’t have much to write about. I feel so very fortunate. Thank YOU!

 

Here’s a clue for my book. It’s all you get right now! 🙂 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AUEjzVQwKo

 

IN OTHER NEWS:

I have a confession to make and I know some of you will never look at me the same because of it… I love the winter. I love it, I love it, I love it! I love the briskness of the cool air, the snow covered beaches and the exaggerated media frenzy that ultimately leads to flurries and light rain. I love the skies! I love the smells! I love the feelings!

The weird thing is, often times I try and force myself to like it less because of the people around me. I can’t go anywhere without someone saying the inevitable Oh this weather is terrible! or Only four more months till summer! Then there’s the person who straight up blames everything on the winter. The winter made me late. The winter made me lazy. The winter made me slap you in the face with no remorse. Sometimes, even if I’m in a blissful state, I’ll agree with someone about the sucky weather and I’m not even sure why. They’re just so comforted by their dissatisfaction I guess I don’t want to take it away from them.

Well folks, now is the season for change and I’m taking a stand! Winter and I are in love and I’m not ashamed! I’ll defend it at all costs from now on. So people, if you want to form a super group of winter haters, I’ll bite my tongue and stand alone.  Yeah!

Here’s to you!

winter

 

Here’s to the man on the beach in this 19 degree weather with his “treasure detector” (not sure what the proper name is). To the woman responsible for cleaning all fifteen floors who told me to keep warm in the elevator. Here’s to the guy wheeling an older lady on the icy sidewalk who kept checking to make sure the blanket on her lap was wrapped tightly enough. Here’s to my dog Bailey who always saves a little bit of food for my other dog, just because he know his buddy is obsessed with eating. Here’s to you who take the time out of your day to read my words.

This winter weather reminds us of the privilege of warmth. It also reminds us of what we have in this part of the world: indoor heat. Here’s to accepting the winter and looking at it through the same lens as the summer, just another period to embrace life and be grateful.

I’ve been very inspired lately. Although it’s pretty clear I’m not religious, today a sign dangling before the walkway of a church called out to me. It said, “Oh my sweetness bring outward pain and inner peace.” Those might not be the exact words, but you get the idea. I don’t even want to write about it. Sometimes it’s best to leave things up to perceptive interpretation.

I’ll leave you with this crazy thought: the earth’s weight never changes. Think about it…

If you’re reading this, I love you! If not, I still love you, but you’ll never know because you aren’t reading this. Either way I hope you’re having a great day!

Not sure what to call this…Live your life!

The same metaphor has been revisiting my mind over the past few days: time is similar to a glass of water in a desert. One can either drink it up, savoring each nurturing sip, or stand still watching the tiny droplets condense and dissipate into the arid air. Regardless of the decision, the water will be gone, time will run out and one will be left alone with the decisions they made.

I don’t mean this in a morbid or pessimistic way, actually quite the contrary. I think life should be focused more on living than dying. We don’t choose when we enter the earth, when we leave, or what insurmountable grief will bury us along the way. The only control we have is how we handle the circumstances which present themselves.

Perfection does not exist and truths are only varying perceptions. My viewpoint remains that the closest one can get to an ideal life experience is the commitment to self betterment with every rising sun; all humans wrestle with negative enticements. As long as one is learning from these experiences and attempting to handle temptation, guilt or anger more positively in the future, every stumble is as much a gift as a victory.

We all have the potential to grow, but only if we let go of fear and allow ourselves to take the plunge into self assurance. I’ve come to realize that achieving your goals and getting everything you want out of life are two of the scariest things imaginable. So much so, that we often talk ourselves out of taking the risk that will pay off the most, solely because of doubt. Right now I’m writing my first novel and every time I sit down to write that little voice gets inside my head  and tells me that I’ll never be good enough, that I’m wasting my time trying to write something that will never amount to anything. However, I choose to push through that fear. Another side of me knows I can do it. Something pulls at my passion strings and gives me the confidence that forces me to prevail. That’s the key to life though isn’t it? Listening to your better half and conquering the insecurity? We can all do it. We just have to be strong enough to make that choice. I really believe everyone has an equal amount of potential.  Now people, please, please go  do something with it!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iB_Ajfe1H2w

 

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Front Man

I can’t even….can’t even describe it. It’s like one of those things only the people who have experienced it can understand. Kind of like an astronaut on a mission to the moon except band practice is the NASA training, a packed amphitheatre: the galaxy. And don’t even get me started on the nerves, man those nerves. You know that feeling of nausea experienced right before you lean in for that first, life altering kiss? Should I do it, should I not? What if my breath smells? What if I’m the worst kisser on the planet? Well magnify that by about a billion, then remind yourself all of those strangers who are sitting out there, screaming your name, they paid to sit in those seats, spent their hard earned cash to hear your voice. They drove, flew, and boarded trains and subways to hear the melodies you and your band brothers created. You and your three best friends on stage, you’re the reason they’re here. You’re it.

This is all just backstage anticipation I’m referring to. Once I step out into the blazing lights and the thousands of spectators scream and whoop and shriek and clap, all I can pay attention to is how heavy my own heart is beating and how loud it all sounds. Even with ear plugs in it’s always so damn loud. The equipment is all set up. One of the stagehands tosses me my custom made, electric blue, Gibson Les Paul and I always catch it. I have no idea how I always catch it, but I always do. Time after time my eyes squint from the thousands of lighters and cell phones. They burn from the cigarette smoke and remnants of pyrotechnics from the sound checks. Then, right before we’re ready to start, I do this kind of ritual thing where I stare at the crowd without blinking for as long as my eyes can take it. Then I close my lids, rub em’ out, take a deep breath, touch my third eye, give all of the guys a we’re ready nod, and proceed to rocking the fuck out.

Though the craziest part about all this insanity is although I can often recall the set lists and broken guitar strings, once I’m off stage, I can never remember what the actual sensation of being on it felt like. It’s like my mind’s eye will only grant me so much. I feel it’s this intangibility factor which prompts me to pack my bags time and again and live on tour buses for what has become the majority of my adult life.

If you want to know where the music comes from, I take very little credit. It’s hard for me to claim the songs I’ve written. It may sound kind of loco, but the truth is, I feel I’m just an outlet for a higher energy source which pulls me along. When I try and control my music, I get lost and feel stuck. Yet, when I stop trying so hard and act as the carrier for this artistically spiritual entity, my music sounds like it was crafted in some construct of what most people would consider to be heaven. And you know what? Call me nuts for saying so, but I believe it just may be. Now, I’m not sure where this said “heaven” is, or who rules the kingdom there, but I do know my music is beyond my control and for that, I am faithful.

I like to believe each human on this and every earth has the key to discover what life is for themselves and within themselves. This philosophy is the bona fide backbone for all of the music I and the other members of SoulJunk write. These songs are our life stories told in the most abstract and musical of ways. For instance, not many fans realize when they are listening to the song Trade Me, they are learning about a humbling experience of isolation I had during a weekend long church camp up in the Catskill Mountains. The excursion revolved around an assortment of different games and strength building activities, all for which Jesus was the ultimate power source. I remember having a fun weekend and even being kind of grateful my mother signed me up until the mandatory campfire on the last night of camp. Sure this good natured gathering started off with s’mores and She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain, but inevitably turned into a full blown Christian conversion ceremony. Clusters of children and adolescents cried in praise and opened their hearts because they felt what they had come there to feel. They had become enlightened, saved, and born, while I sat there praying fervently in a cocoon of self-deprivation, willing to do anything in the realm of possibility to hear Jesus whisper in my ear.

After I had given it my last deep sigh and inward plea, I decided to change my approach. Instead of praying to Jesus, asking to be found, I decided to beckon the universe and asked to be traded. I prayed some other boy who was able to be saved would trade places with me and find this amazing light which others felt blessed to bask in. I couldn’t find it, but that didn’t mean I thought it was impossible for somebody else to and it’s still the way I feel about life today. Although I’ve had my moments of deviation, my core solution to getting along is the whole hearted acceptance of myself and others.

People always ask me when I decided I wanted to play music for a career and the truth is, there was never one particular moment when I realized. It’s what I’ve always wanted. I was singing from the time I could speak and it wasn’t just sweet nursery rhymes like most kids. I had a deep rock voice from before I hit puberty and I used to scream and sing during all hours of the day. When the ever elusive puberty did rear itself, my voice became that much stronger and this new found confidence motivated me to get my first guitar. I got it from the pawn shop down the road with no inclination of how to even play a chord, yet I practiced my ass off and learned everything I could. I made love to this instrument like it was the last woman on earth. I was obsessive and compulsive, furious when it betrayed me, elated when the notes came out smooth and seductive. After a year or two of this musical affair, I could play everything from Zeppelin to Hendrix and began writing my own songs. The surreal nature of creating a melody made me even more infatuated. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Back in high school when our band Corn Nugget rehearsed in a storage space to play bowling alleys that didn’t pay us, I knew no matter what would happen in my life, it was the only action which would ever keep me fulfilled. I didn’t dream about what it would be like to be a rock star, more just woke up every single day needing to play. Even before Corn Nugget and the rehearsal space, there was playing until my skin fell off, writing until my fingers cramped up and singing until my throat felt like it was engulfed in flames. I knew this was and forever would be my plight as a musician. If I wanted to be great, I would have to push through the pain and find peace in the artistic struggle.

In the New Jersey suburb where I was raised, people wore their tough mentality like a badge of honor on their clothing. This made me that much more dedicated to fostering my music. My main goal was always to enlighten others and make them happy, permeate these rigid exteriors and grab at their souls. My dad was a Police Officer and my mom an art teacher. It was a good balance of structure and creativity, but didn’t stop me from pushing boundaries during those oh so formative high school years.

If you listen to my lyrics, you will realize these are the words in my diary, the secret thoughts and philosophies I seldom speak aloud. This is my way to express what I cannot annunciate, to explain the way in which I see the world. I know I sound all Zen and righteous now, but that doesn’t mean the story of my life is without its stumbles. I try and look at each instance of poor judgment as a step towards the inner security it takes to expose oneself to millions they don’t know. Without failure, would any of us really know ourselves?

Growing up, Derek, Davis, Chase and I were badass little punk rockers. We used to steal from those we felt represented the system. We used to have a friend film us shitting on the lawns of the most expensive houses and then put the footage in their porcelain mail boxes just because we could. The truth is, we were young and ignorant. We were just so happy to be a part of the underground rock family of the East Coast, we would do just about anything to prove ourselves. We strived to be perceived as the tough punk grunge youth of the 90’s. In reality we were just bored kids who were addicted to rock music and this life style of rebellion.

The boys in the band and I spent most of the weekends of our teens at Riot, this basement punk venue right in the center of Manhattan. I would tell my parents we were writing music at Chase’s and practicing for our bowling alley gigs. In reality, we were meeting at the train station with joints in our pockets and whatever we could scrounge from our parents’ liquor cabinets camouflaged in paper bags. The train was always the pregame and once we got to New York, we would find a back alley, take a toke and chill for a moment before rocking our brains out.

Riot was a cesspool of nineties grunge rockers of all souls and identities. Me and my group of young band brothers would do anything we could to push our way to the front and be as punk as possible. By as punk as possible I mean: crowd surfing, mosh pitting, head banging, free for alling, getting on the stage and jumping right off the front, rolling on the floor, punching, kicking, bloody noses, and gyrating to the music in every which way that would free our minds. Compared to the Disco generation of our parents, the grunge generation wasn’t about how good your moves were or how stylin’ your outfit was, it was about pure insurgence and upheaval, kicking ass and taking names all for the greater good of the movement.

We also had this habit of trying to chill with the bands after every show we saw. We would seek out where each after party was, find a way to sneak in and pour our hearts to the musicians, telling them how much we aspired to make musical brilliance. Even if it was the first time we heard of a band, which it often times was, we told them how much we loved and respected them. We were hungry to one day share our art with the world like they had done with us. We dreamed it, manifested it and practiced for hours and hours and days and nights and in betweens until our instruments broke, until we played every single song twenty times in a row without one mistake. We all knew we wanted to commit our lives to music, so that’s what we did. Music came first, second and third. Girls came fourth and school was at the bottom of the list.

I love women. I love them a lot not only for their wondrous shapes and curves, but also for their infinite wisdom and intuition. My career allows me to pretty much have sex wherever I want it, however I want, and whenever I want it, yet the blatant accessibility tends to stifle my appetite altogether. At the core of my being, I am a hopeless romantic, intrigued by mystery and smitten by what I haven’t yet experienced. Once we changed our name from Corn Nugget to SoulJunk and began to make it big, I realized I could either use this sexual power for good or evil. I could prey on women who were ill conceived of who I was because of the band’s social image or I could hold out for the ones who challenged me. The ones who didn’t give a shit about my band or how many records we’d sold. That’s what I do now, but it did take some years of maturing to get there.

There was a time early in my career where I used my sexual prowess for evil. During these moments of extreme loneliness and pure exultation I leaned on women the most. I experienced all types of beautiful women from tattooed punk passionate women, to bleach blonde beach babes, not to mention the groupies waiting backstage boasting the best blowjobs in the universe. I mean, I was a seventeen-year-old punk who got fortunate enough drop out of high school and get paid to play music. I had a lot of growing up to do and seized most opportunities for better or worse.

When we had a big enough following to go on our first tour we couldn’t believe it. We were stunned it was all happening. We started out playing little punk basement parties and ending up getting booked to open for the Smashers on a standing venue tour of the West Coast. The deal I made with my parents was if I terminated my high school education, I would have to get my GED before we left for our tour. I studied non-stop for two weeks, took the test and passed without a problem. Nothing was going to stop me from touring the country and playing music with my best friends.

That tour holds some of the best moments of my life. No one knew who we were at any venue, but it didn’t matter. Our first show was booked at this dive bar on the beach in La Jolla, California. None of us had ever been to Cali and La Jolla didn’t disappoint. We had a short 45-minute set and the bitch spot in the line-up, but couldn’t care less. We were just grateful to have the opportunity to play. When people started filling the room and it was time for us to start our tour, we were all a little buzzed, but ready enough to give it our all. Derek began slapping the bass and right from the first note we had the crowd hanging on our every beat. I opened my mouth and my voice felt more controlled and powerful than ever. I still remember we began the set with Nobody’s Pet and by the end of the song the crowd was one huge mosh pit. Now, even our earliest stuff isn’t metal enough to inspire this kind of behavior. People were going crazy pushing, punching and dancing. The crowd looked beyond happy to be there and I was digging every minute of it.

After the show these two young girls, they looked about 18, but I’m guessing they were around 16, invited us to go swimming in the Ocean. We were used to the New Jersey water, which is still freezing in the spring, but they just laughed and told us to follow them. We got to the beach and one of the girls pulled out a handle of Bacardi from her backpack. She untwisted the lid, took a huge chug, and then passed it to her friend who did the same.

“You guys want a hit?” The first girl reached into her backpack again. I smiled and nodded expecting her to take out a pint sized smoking device. Instead, she pulled out a tiny Altoids tin, walked up to me, and placed a hit of acid on my tongue. I had never tripped before and just kind of went along with the whole event. The girl then went up to the other guys in the band and placed a tab of acid on each of their tongues. We had all talked about wanting to try it and all I remember thinking about on the come up was how thankful I was to be at the beach with my band mates, embarking on this journey of mind enhancement together.

I did my on stage ritual, but this time with the moon instead of the crowd and then looked to my right as girl number one was sliding off her t-shirt. Instead of revealing a string bikini top, she stood in the glimmering California moonlight exposing her bare breasts. Once again, her friend followed suit and before any of us realized, we were all naked in the ocean, touching and playing and splashing until the next morning. That night I thought about my childhood for hours and about women and the sky, the international space station and nipples, about how crazy and wonderful they all are. After this spiritual awakening which will forever connect us to those girls whose names I don’t know, we sat in our tour van and wrote dozens of songs until the sun came up. A lot of the songs on Naked Swim were written that night. I like to think of it as some of our most inspired work.

One of the hardest things about being this supposed “rock star” is that you can’t really trust a lot of people. My mother always told me growing up: “be kind to many trust only few,” and this was before she knew I would be touring the world, having seedy managers and gold digging groupies pawing us at every stop. I have been fooled and swindled more times than I would like to admit. On Shadow, our fourth full studio album, a lot of the songs are inspired by a girl whom I dated for two years and was loyal to on two separate world tours. I did my best to not even glance at other woman because I was so transfixed by this one awe worthy girl, by her legs, her smile, and the way she loved origami and long boarding. For the first time in my music career I felt I had found a woman who loved me for my soul and not just my public title. I was blinded by love in the worst way and much to my band mates’ dismay even decided to bring her on our third world tour.

In Budapest, one of the last stops on the tour, I walked in on her doing the reverse cow girl with the drummer of the opening act. I had invited this band to tour with us because of their positive reputation and humble vibe. When I saw the love of my life naked with this dirt bag, I punched him in the face until my hand was swollen and kicked them off of the tour. I bought my ex a plane ticket home and wrote dozens of angst ridden songs about the experience. It’s interesting how upbeat some of the most painful songs on the album are. The whole time I was beating the guy, I couldn’t get Sublime’s Right Back  out of my head and I think that funky base line and Island melody has a lot to do with it. It took a while to recover from that betrayal, but some great music was produced from it, so in a way I am thankful.

This is the first time the band has decided to take a hiatus and I can’t say I’m not fearful. There are a lot of sides of myself which don’t involve music and I’ve been scared to explore them for a long time. We are by no means breaking up. Chase, Davis, and Derek are still and forever will be my brothers. Kristy, Davis’s wife, is expecting and Derek is working on a solo album. I don’t know where my life will lead, but if there’s one thing I have left to accomplish, it’s to help bring life into this world. I’m not sure how it’s going to happen, but to love someone more than myself is something I can’t live without experiencing.

So now, as I stand backstage at our last show before the big question mark, my stomach is churning and the pit won’t go away. I know though, once I step out there, catch my guitar and perform my ritual, everything will be all right, just as it’s always been.

 

Thankful

I’m thankful stars are visible to the naked eye, that every moon brings a sparkling masterpiece, each as otherworldly as the last.

I’m thankful for the ocean and the rhythm of the tide as it collides with the coast line. I’m thankful for the expansive blue, the smell of sea air, the feel of sand beneath my feet.

I’m thankful for the silence of the forest, for its ever changing state, its cyclical nature of life and death, the intricacy of its patterns.

I’m thankful for sunlight and moonlight and inner light. I’m thankful for energy and the things on earth that can only be felt, never explained.

I’m thankful for all of the world’s creatures, for their intuitions and instincts, for the unique way in which they all have evolved, for their tradition and intelligence.

I’m thankful for people. For the good ones, the bad ones, and everyone in between. I’m thankful for their quirks, I’m thankful for their lessons.

I’m thankful for myself, for this gift of life, to be alive. I’m thankful for the struggles and victories. The questions with no answers, the power of positivity.

I’m thankful for souls, though intangible, mean more than bodies ever could. I’m thankful for memory and for the ability to forget.

I’m thankful for it all, for colors, shapes, conversation and time. I’m thankful for inner peace and I’m thankful for conflict. I’m thankful for this moment, for this chance to be thankful.

I’m thankful to breathe, to see, to feel. I’m thankful for those who are no longer here and for those people I haven’t yet met.

I’m truly thankful.