Hola amigos, I know it’s been a second since I rapped atcha, but it’s been nuttier than squirrel shit mixed with elephant shit around here lately. this one is mostly(!) for my sweet loyal subscribers but y’all lurkers can see a bit of the sweet sweet candy underneath. If you like what you see, please subscribe. It really helps me out more than you know. Today’s subject: things you gotta do before you die. In the words of vanilla ice, let’s kick it:
Everyone has ideas about what makes a great and fulfilling life and as I careen thoroughly into middle age, this is something that strikes me all the time: what are the significant things that make up a life well lived, and what do I still have do before it’s all over?
I know that I only feel as significant as something I’ve done in the last week, which means I’m a real lazy piece of shit, and yo, I have written six songs and recorded a 3 song EP in that time as well as doing a day job and playing some pretty good shows, but for whatever reason that doesn’t seem significant to me. I’m not trying to be one of those faux humble shitheads or anything. It’s just that stuff that I…how do I put this? Stuff I do out of a sort of compulsive drive to just do what I have to do does nothing for me, satisfaction wise.
A lot of it has to do with the fact that (I’m being my own psychologist here) the people that are close to me don’t find me writing songs or playing shows impressive. They consider that to be what comes in the box, as it were. I’m not trying to cry about anything, but when your job looks fun, no one gives you credit for doing it, and that’ll never really not be the case until you’re in the stones or something. But whatever. This isn’t about me being insecure (all of these things and this very blog are all about me being insecure), it’s about doing stuff.
I will never sand down a door or build a canoe or break out of prison or build code for an immersive digital world or even finish a video game as a player, but I can understand that those things are fun. They’re not what I need to feel like I lived a full life, however.
I just need the following things. I’ve done most of them and the ones I haven’t done are probably on this list as tongue in cheek stuff that really freaks me out, but for the most part, this is the list of things that you absolutely should do while you’re alive:
Go to another country
You gotta travel. People that don’t travel don’t realize what a quick taxonomy lesson it is regarding humanity at large, including oneself. Finding yourself abroad, cheesy as it sounds, is one of the best and quickest ways to find yourself.
You know why people who don’t travel tend to be racist and xenophobic? Because they don’t travel. With precious few exceptions, there aren’t any racists who have done any real traveling. Hell, even a backpacking trip through Europe probably can do enough soul cleansing for all but the most Exalted of Cyclopses.
I was born here but I was a baby in London and Brussels and then I got lucky enough to get a job where I got to travel as part of it. The thing is though, as part of this job, for every Torino (unbelievably wonderful) we go to, there’s a Luxembourg (Luxembourg).
That said, you don’t have to love where you go and sometimes you won’t. Or, more to the point you maybe won’t love everything even if the view and the food are amazing.
you’ll be in Mexico and be like “yo, we have to throw our shit tickets in the TRASH?” You’ll be in Germany and be baffled by this attitude that’s so brash and weird, which often times seems, to the uninitiated very rude and smug (hot on women, not so much on men), you’ll be in Italy and love everything except for literally any municipal infrastructure which is god awful. You’ll be in Tokyo and marvel at how that dude just almost pushed your girlfriend off the platform onto the train tracks because there’s a different idea of equality and (ahem) she shouldn’t have been in his way.
But you’ll go to Panama and never want to leave. You’ll go to Melbourne and be like “this is amazing but a little expensive, huh?” but then you’ll go to Wellington New Zealand and you’ll pray to a god you don’t believe in that you can just find someone there who will keep you forever.
There are perfect places on earth, y’all and you should see them. I should see more. I only know of two, Panama and New Zealand. Tell me what your favorite places are in the comments. the place I most want to go right now is Zanzibar, and I feel like that’s probably not happening anytime soon. Which stinks, but it gives me something to look forward to which is a very important thing to have (if any of you have Zanzibar hookups, lemme know!).
Enjoy a book
I’m not trying to be a didact or a scholar or anything like that. But a good book is a fucking miracle. You HAVE to use your brain when you read so for one thing, you know when it’s time to sleep because your brain turns off and for another, when you need to stop thinking about something troublesome, just read about Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect and your brain will shut that meddlesome shit out before you can say ‘towel’ (google it).
I have a large list of books I really like and I don’t know that I think anyone has to read like I do (arguably it’s avoidance behavior at this point) but I’ll just bust out a few of the ones I really like and you can decide for yourself if you wanna read any of them.
the Tin Drum-Grass
The Master and Margarita-Bulgakov
The Satanic Verses-Rushdie
Breakfast of Champions-Vonnegut
Blitzed (the true tale of nazis freaking out on drugs)-Ohler
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy-Adams
The Restaurant at the end of the universe-Adams
Life the Universe and Everything-Adams
the wizard of the crow-Thiong’o
the heart is a lonely hunter-McCullers
crime and punishment-Dostoyevsky
the nose-Gogol (more of a short story but if it gets you into Gogol it’s good enough)
All of these are really wildly great books. I don’t believe I can name this many great books off the top of my head. We live in a beautiful world where people of all stripes will surprise and delight you with what they’ve made.
As I just said, I’m not making anything for real. To belabor the point, I’ll never construct an Adirondack chair (well, I never will again. I did in shop class when I was a teen. I think my mom has it still). I’ll never build a better mousetrap or perfect government or revolutionary masturbation sleeve or raise a barn or any of that kinda shit. But maybe you should. If that kinda handiwork suits who you are and what your skill set is, it’s important to jump in and make something.
I am kind of a fruity artist by trade and as such here’s what I’ve made: poems, paintings, drawings, various screeds, a novel that no one has ever seen, a few short movies, one long movie, and songs. Each of these things on their own fill no great place in my soul, but together they’re my life’s work and I can look at the compendium and feel proud that I tried, no matter how trivial or unsuccessful or even bad any of it was.
Trying is important. And failing is just as important. You know how comedians say “You gotta go up there and bomb a thousand times before you get good?” This is some self important horseshit.
Yo, you think that being a guy that decides he wants to make airplanes just steps out the gate and builds the Concord on day one? Um. No. He does not.
I am too afraid to do comedy because of this old maxim about bombing over and over and over again, but I can tell you this: every band sucks for a while. Every writer sucks for a while. Every accountant sucks for a while. Comedians are just so precious and self important that they think that they’ve got some kind of monopoly on bombing.
Shit, George Bush’s dad was ALSO a president and the young Bush grew up in the White House and when 9/11 happened he sat there like a confused ventriloquist’s dummy whose ass had mercifully been de-handed. He was the PRESIDENT. He sucked at it the whole time but he sucked at it a LOT at the beginning. You have to.
I’ve talked about this before here, but you have nothing to learn from after a certain point besides your own mistakes and how they make you feel about your output. You CAN get frustrated and quit (many people do! Even just being uh, welders or whatever [no disrespect to welders intended. I just mean that this is not relegated only to the world of art]) but you should not.
Every failure is something you should look at as a step through the deep mud to get to where you want to go. Only when you finally shed the notion that you could ever be good at something do you become even halfway decent. From there, your work can begin to grow and you can begin to have a voice, even as an accountant or a park ranger or whatever the fuck. It doesn’t have to be music or poems or paintings. Those are just the most obvious examples.
But yeah, comedians think they’re the only ones who bomb. Whoopity doo. Tell it to 16 year old BK on his 3rd shift at McDonalds. I had no idea what I was doing and was being called a moron by an old man wearing slippers within the first hour. I think it’s safe to say I was already bombing pretty hard there. Suck on that, comedians.
Anyway, if you fail on the first try, just remember that you’re likely on your way to success or at the very least a lot of potential improvement.
Okay, good chat. Moving on.
Oh, before we go, here’s a little thing I made, directed by nick Martin (of Wandering Birds fame for those of you who know what that is) and starring the wonderfully talented Katie Powers. Give me a tv show, executives.
Now see, I don’t want to do this AT ALL. I don’t need to watch something die. I’ve watched animals die and I’ve even seen a guy get murdered outside the fireside bowl, and it was not, at any point, for me even in the slightest. The idea that I could….
that’s it free folk. this is one of the good ones. If you want to read the rest, please consider subscribing. Either way, thank you for reading