"I can't say it feels good." - Me.
I have a bunch of tattoos. Some of them have a special meaning and others simply do not. One that has absolutely no meaning at all is the sandwich I have tattooed on my thigh. I guess what it really means is I love hoagies (east-coast word for sandwich) from Wawa (gas station/grocery store/coffee shop/incredible) and I love where I come from. I have met people who have tattoos that remind them of their children or deceased relatives. I have met people who have portraits on their chest and other sentimental notions that have such depth it makes you want to cry. I have also met people who got a tattoo of a hotdog because they were drunk and wanted a tattoo of a hotdog. I think the thing to remember is that tattoos mean something different to everyone.
Jamie and I have both been tattooed but never got tattooed at the same time. It has been a while since either of us has gotten any new permanently inked onto our bodies so we figured we were do. We did some research, but kept coming up blank for an artist or shop that we really thought was a perfect match for our style, or lack thereof. Finding the right shop and artist is hard.
I was at our local market a few weeks back and ran into an old friend. He had just got a few new tattoos and they looked awesome. They had vivid colors and that specific attention to detail that you want in a tattoo. He recommended his artist and shop. Boom. Just like that, we were in business. I got home and couldn't wait to tell Jamie that I had found us a shop that our friend recommended and that I like his work. We drove down to check out the shop immediately and before we knew it we had appointments.
Getting tattoos sucks. It stings. Don't let anyone tell you that it is an enjoyable experience, they are lying. The enjoyable experience is when it is over and you get a drink. The other enjoyable high comes when it’s done healing and you have an incredible piece of artwork that you carry with you everywhere you go. I love my tattoos and I can't remember what my body looked like without them.
This marks Jamie's second tattoo and she got her inner forearm done. She rules. Such a badass move. I thought she would be done in minutes because she was getting some very small and fine line-work but those thin lines come at a price, and that price is time. Mine, on the other hand, took about an hour and it's double the size of hers. I kept my traditional sailor style theme going and plan to keep it going until I barely have any skin left.
When you are younger, I feel everyone tells you to think long and hard about getting tattoos and that they won't be acceptable or you won't get a job. Those people are knuckleheads. They think mayo is spicy. If you feel like getting a friggin tattoo, do it. I don't regret any of mine and I bet you won't either.
"I got a letter? Who the shit mails a letter anymore?" - Me.
I use to think my grandma hated me. Who knows, maybe she does. I am the son of the family's black sheep. It seemed like no matter what I did it was never good enough. There always seemed to be an issue or an off-centered comment in all of our interactions. It only seemed to get worse as time went on.
My grandma, my father's mother, was dealt a tough hand. She lived in an orphanage in Philadelphia, was eventually adopted and got married. That marriage ended in divorce, which was a way bigger deal then than it is now. This left her alone with too many children and a household to manage. I met my biological grandpa twice in my life, and I remember him being a dick anyway. So, reflecting on it now, I can see why she was miserable; or at least seemed to be. She did eventually re-marry to a wonderful man who I consider to be my real grandfather regardless if we are related by blood or not. RIP Marvin.
Throughout life, even if it was a birthday, graduation, or life event, it always seemed to be one step forward and two steps back with her. She would wish me a happy birthday and in the next breath tell me to go back to school and my car needed to be washed. All our conversations seem to hover at a 30,000-foot level. No matter what I could not seem to break through and connect with her. It did not help that later in life she did let me use her house to start a production company. We were essentially rent free, but there were a few rules. I could not party or drink there. What did I do? I partied and drank there. I was 23. What did I expect from myself? We did accomplish work, and grew our business, but that was a moot point. No matter how I tried to explain it to her, it was irrelevant. She found a beer bottle. I broke the rule. I was out. Business. Over.
A few years went by and I moved all over the country, took my career more seriously, and gained some more life experience. I reflected on my relationship with her. A few years back, I decided to start calling her more often - all my family actually - to make sure I was doing my best to remove any roadblocks that could prevent our relationship from growing. The first few calls were awkward - terrible in fact. She would wonder what I wanted, if I was asking for money, or if I needed her help with no return on investment. I ensured her all I wanted to do was talk and check in.
It took a while to regain trust and show her that I was no longer a 23-year-old moron. Our calls have gotten more pleasant, and this past week I received a handwritten letter from her. We have turned a new leaf! I could not believe it. I was in shock and excited. Getting something in the mail from Amazon is one thing, but getting a handwritten letter is something completely different. I set it aside and made time to read it without distraction. A personalized letter is special. She informed me about how she was doing, how her friends are and wished me and Jamie well.
I am writing her back now and using a typewriter to do it. I want her to have a personalized message from me. A text can be ignored, an email can be deleted, but a typed or handwritten document is personal. I am glad she and I are on better terms. It took a while, but we did it.
Love ya, grandma.
"There is no way he is going to make that full court shot." - Me.
Over the last year a couple of my friends and I committed to seeing each other more often. We all have varying work schedules that make it almost impossible to see each other, but we decided there would be no excuses. After playing the "what day works for you" game for a while we decided that Wednesdays would work for all of us. We have all played this game before. It's where a bunch of working adults stand around and look at their iPhone calendars and continue to ask each other questions like, "Does Tuesday at 4 pm work?" Then someone responses with, "Ah, no, I have a flute lesson" or "Gotta take my girlfriend to the dentist" or "Oh no dude, I can't" with no real reason given. We were committed to hanging out so we clear our schedules for Wednesday afternoons.
Organically we just started meeting up and playing basketball. I have no idea where this idea came from or why we consistently, without asking a question of why, just all knew to show up at Virginia Park in Santa Monica on Wednesday to shoot around. Most of the time we'd play horse. Every once in a while we'd attempt some one on one, or even a pickup game with whoever was there. We would talk about our weeks and upcoming plans. We'd talk shit about politics, business ventures, how our significant others think we act like teenage dorks; which in all fairness, we do. We could get together and talk about old pop-punk bands from the 2000's like it's nobody's business.
I'd like to point out that none of us have any athletic ability and looked like complete fools on the court, but we didn't care. We were out there to talk trash, catch up, and connect. Towards the end of these meet up's we decided to see who could take the most unique shot. While all the other community members were playing games of 21 or practicing their free throws, we were busy taking full court shots, screaming "KOBE!" regardless if it went in, which it never did. We are all from Philadelphia and what you see portrayed on It's Always Sunny, is not that far off from a real-world depiction of how people from that area are actually like. Interrupting another court full of players so we can do a trick bounce-shot off a trash can? Check.
Both of my friends recently got new jobs with incredible opportunities. The flip side is these new opportunities will take them away from a close proximity to Virginia Park and our basketball days have come to an end. I am super proud of these two from grinding it out and not giving up when their careers felt stagnant. Being miserable 40+ hours a week is no way to live your life, so I'm pumped we all get to do something we enjoy and get up excited about. If you have to work for someone, you better freaking like it.
I am bummed out that our collective may be on a hiatus, but I know that we will soon grace the court soon and maybe eventually someone will make that full court, bounce shot off the trash can, through the trees, off the park bench and get "nothing but net."
“Dude, no fucking way.” - Me.
We just stood there. I couldn't believe it. I have been playing this game on and off for five years and have never come this close. Could I have done it? My first hole in one?
Moments earlier my friend, Ryan, and I had been lining up our shots on the 5th. It's a beautiful day out in Southern California, but when is it not? It's sunny, mid-70's, with a few white, billowing clouds spotting the blue mid-morning sky. A cool breeze washed across my face as I approached my attempt to par this hole. I have played this course before and for some reason the 5th always destroys me. I can never seem to line it up right. I took a deep breath and let it rip.
Ry was watching the ball as I slowly brought my head up. I had no idea where it went so I turned to him and asked, "Where did it go, dude?" I pivoted to look towards the green and saw the flag on the pin give a little shake as if something had struck it. I thought to myself there was no way I just nailed it. There wasn't a chance. I turned back to Ry, handed him my phone, and told him to head down in front of me, I didn't want to see it yet. He looked back with astonishing awe, "Dude, you did it." He ran towards the green and I just stood there, 100 yards away reflecting on the shot.
I had pared the last three holes and was proud of that, there was no way I could have just sunk this in one shot. It just doesn't make sense, I am not good at golf. But, maybe it's just my lucky day. I trekked down towards my shot and Ry was jumping up and down screaming, "Dude, you nailed it! It popped in and out, I know it!" My ball, from a shot taken 100 yards away, had been lying on the lip of the hole. I stiff breeze or tremor could have toppled it in. I couldn't believe it. I finally did it, the eagle quest was over. I couldn't, and still can't, believe it.
Ryan tried to convince me that it was a hole in one, but we all know it wasn't. At most, my ball might have popped in and out of the hole, potentially, for just a moment, it was a hole in one. I will take the eagle. We must have stayed there for ten minutes celebrating and holding up everyone behind us trying to tee off. I didn't care. We took photos, videos, and I am pretty sure I text everyone I have ever played golf with to show them this accomplishment.
The most humbling thing about this experience was the very next hole I sliced it back into the tree line. There we go, that's the game I am used to. Maybe it was a bit of luck from the golf gods to let me have a moment in the sun, but they promptly put me back in my place on the 6th.
Damn you, golf gods. Why must you play with my emotions like this?
This past Record Store Day was incredible. I love the community vibe, the passion, and electricity that happens when a bunch of music lovers come together to celebrate their favorite music. Record Store Day 2019 celebrates the 10th year in a row I have been participating in the joys of selectively released and limited pressed selections from recording artists from all over the world. I have been able to celebrate Record Store Day in 3 different cities over the last decade and every year keeps getting better.
Here is the haul and some pictures of my buddy Alec and I celebrating at Record Surplus in Los Angeles!
It’s a beautiful Friday in Southern California and we hope yours is shinning as well. This week we have new tracks from east-coasters Saver, ARMORS, Sunsleeper, and more brought to you exclusively through Apple Music! Check it out now!
"Welp. Shit." - Me.
It was a perfect day off. I was going to meet two of my friends for golf, the weather is beautiful. Our dryer is still broken so the pressure to accomplish all the laundry that is piling up fell out of sight and out of mind. I mean, I can't finish the laundry if I can't dry it, right? The sun is out, the warm morning breeze of summer is blowing through Santa Monica and I had nothing to do but hit the links with the boys. What else could I ask for?
Well, they both canceled on me last minute. I was pissed. This was supposed to be a beautiful mid-week break from work to hang and have some guy time, but no, one of them had to get food poisoning and the other had to go to the doctors, my friends are so inconsiderate. How dare they not consult me before making other plans to tend to their health? I decided to go anyway and play solo, it'll still be a great time.
I pulled into the public golf course and got ready to go. The bag was loaded up, sunblock on, and had a few snacks and beverages. Time to play. I teed off and was feeling great about the start to my day, who needs those guys anyway. I pulled up to the green and went looking for my putter. "Oh, shit, I knew I forgot something" I rambled to myself. As it turns out I had recently used my putter for a thrilling game of indoor-putter-return in my living room a few nights before. My putter now rests in the corner of my kitchen, nowhere near the first hole of this game. Shit.
What am I to do? Go back and rent a putter? Hell no. I can't admit I am a moron. I am going to figure this out and play this round the way the powers that be wanted me to, without a putter. Maybe it was a sign I should work on my chipping technique. Either way, I am not turning back now.
It wasn't my worst round ever, but definitely, one that I won't forget. I used my driver, my 3 and my 9 all as putters for the day. Other folks on the course occasionally looked over at me like I was out of my mind. Plus, I even managed to feed a squirrel. All in all, incredible day on the course. Any day out playing golf beats even your best day at work.
Sometimes there is just nothing to say.
I am happy.
"Life is weird." - Us.
Our lives have taken us to places we never thought we would go. Jamie and I have done what we wanted for the last 6 years. Travel? check. Visit virtually every state? Check. Buy a VW Vanagon customize it, and travel the backroads of America at 40MPH hoping we don't break down or fall off the side of a Colorado mountain that doesn't have a guardrail? Check. I like to believe we have a slight extra dash of "outlier" in our recipe than others. It's not that often that people just pick up and go, follow their gut feelings, go through a ton of life experiences together, and continue to make the best of every situation. We are very lucky. We have always had the support of our families and friends, but when you are a nation away from everything you know and the comforts they bring, it's a completely different ball game.
As I sit this morning, with my coffee and a blank page, I started to reflect on how special and weird life can be. Watch any Gary V clip and he will eventually tell (yell at) his audience that there is a one in a quadrillion (I just made that word up I think) chance of being born. Which, if that is true, I haven't done the research, that is pretty freaking weird. Which begs the age-old question of, why? Why am I here? Why are you here? And, more importantly, does anything really matter? Yes, I am reflecting on WHY this morning, such a millennial.
I came across this photo in my camera roll this morning and forgot I took it. I thought it looked cool and then reflected on when I took it. We were traveling around in some California mountain town and stopped at a local brewery. Go figure. It had been a while since we had seen snow so we wanted to capture every moment. There was a mound of snow close to us so I nestled my phone in it, set the timer, ran back and bam, this photo is the results. That day was incredible. It was cold, the heater in the Van was barely working, we had to buy extra gloves, and roadside Mexican blankets to stay warm, but we made it to our destination and were able to fit a brewery in also. What else is life about if it's not about adventuring through it and finding small moments to make it all worthwhile?
Every moment is special if you let it be. I know I sound like a total hippie, but I do believe it. Everything we do can teach us or can be transformed into something unique and special. Take a second today to check out your surroundings, be grateful, take ten good breaths and try to see something from a different perspective. I think you'll find out that life is weird. Let me know what you come up with.
I hope this made sense. If not, whatever. These are my Sunday thoughts.
Spring is here! This week’s 6-Pack will try to help you shake off the snow from winter and get you in the mood to smell the roses! We have new tracks from American Football, NO WIN, PUP, and more all brought to you exclusively through Apple Music!
When I was younger all I wanted to do was be in a band. I saw Back to the Future at a young age and when Marty explodes back across the room from the amp he was standing in front of, I knew that is something I needed to do. Starting a band is one of the hardest and most rewarding events I reflect on from my life. Starting the band is just the first obstacle. After you eventually find friends who are as dedicated as you to practicing and sucking together, you have to then figure out how to play in front of people and get your music into peoples heads. When we started our first bands in the suburbs of Philadelphia we never thought we would get a chance to play venues in the city with some of the coolest bands and people we have ever met, especially not at The Troc. Playing The Troc was impossible in our young minds.
We worked our balls off playing everywhere we could as often as possible and one day we were finally given a shot to play some awesome venues. I remember playing The Troc balcony more times than I can count, in God knows how many bands, and loving every second of it. Through years of grinding, failure, setbacks, deaths, blood, sweat, and many tears, we eventually worked our way to playing the main stage. The Troc was a community where we all came together, all the misfits, to play our terrible songs to each other. My parents drove us down there to catch shows, and to watch us play. My dad has hauled more equipment in and out of that place than any stagehand I have ever met. If you have ever carried an 8x10 cabinet up those balcony stairs, you know what I am talking about.
It is sad to see the doors of The Troc closing for good, but I will always remember the incredible times there, all the incredible talent that has performed there that I had the privilege to see, all the incredible people there.
Later Troc, thanks for all the good times.
"Holy shit, that can't be him." - Me.
Last weekend Jamie and I had a very rare whole Saturday and Sunday to ourselves. With both of our work schedules, we rarely get an entire weekend off together. We had no visitors, no trips, no plans at all for a full 48 hours. We were thrilled. On Friday night we discussed what we would do with all this free time. When we lived in our home in Nashville we always had a project of some kind to complete, but we are renters now, we have no projects to complete. Our van is a tricked out as we want it, so no projects there, we were totally free. We ended up deciding to go down to Disneyland for the night. We are pass holders and haven't gone down in a while, especially to see the fireworks at the end of the night. We made our plans, found a super cheap hotel outside of the park, loaded up the van, and were on our way to our weekend getaway.
We checked into our hotel, which was a total shit show, but never the less, we would not let it ruin our time together. We walked over to the park and Immediately got drinks. To our surprise and merriment, it is Food and Wine Festival at Disneyland right now. We were locked in. We bounced from food cart to food cart enjoying adult beverages, and food from across the world. What more could you ask for?
We got a real meal for dinner and then decided to walk around to see if there were any rides we wanted to jump on before watching the fireworks to end our night. We wondered through California Adventure people watching and enjoying our stroll when I heard him. It stopped me dead in my tracks. "Oh, that's money right there. Welcome to Flavortown!" The words echoed through my soul. I turned slowly to the left and there he was, winner-winner chicken dinner himself, Guy Fieri. I was stunned. Jamie and I are both huge fans. He has a huge cult following. He looked exactly the same as he does on Triple D (Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives for those of you who do not follow the Church of Fieri). He was on stage to a small audience for the Food and Wine Festival. How lucky were we?
I grabbed Jamie's arm and scared the hell out of her. I could barely get out the words and she kept asking me what the hell was wrong with me. I blurted out, "That's gangster!" She just stared at me, "How many beers have you had?" Before I could say another word she looked over my shoulder to see Guy, in all his glory, as he responded to an audience members question saying, "You could put that on a flip flop and I'd eat it." He is incredible.
We watched his entire presentation and could not have been happier. Although we did not get a chance to attend his after parry celebration, he did leave us stunned and excited for the night. We were so floating for the rest of our evening as we discussed our favorite memories from Triple D and life. Just a perfect end to a perfect weekend alone with Jamie.
Guy - Thank you for all the joy you have brought to my wife and me.