"We need to do this more." - Us.
We live a mile from the Pacific Coast, and we find ourselves rarely taking advantage of it, especially during the winter months. Just like everyone else, we get wrapped in our lives and the stresses each day can bring. We talk about stress as if most of it is out of our control. I feel we get set on auto-pilot-mode, letting others dictate our decisions. The emotional toll that stress brings allows us to get lazy. It is easy to sit on the couch after a day at work to watch something mind-numbing, order some food from whatever food-delivery app has the best deal of the day, and pass out. Our laziness can be a vicious cycle.
I had a rare Saturday night off, and instead of going to a happy hour somewhere, getting tired, and crashing on the couch, Jamie and I decided to do a beach picnic. I raced home from work and kicked off my shoes - exchanging them for my flip flops - and we rolled down the hill to the beach in our comfortably converted VW Vanagon. There was almost no one on the beach, so we picked a spot to spread out and enjoyed the sunset. The summer breeze was coming in from the sea, and the sounds of the ocean crashing down on the sand played softly in the background as we dug into our dinner.
It is nice to put the phones down and have a conversation. I love technology as much as anyone; however, unplugging can help clear your head and get back to the scenery around us. Beauty is everywhere; you don't need a beach picnic to realize it - not to say that it doesn't help. There is always something beautiful around if we take a second to notice it. As the sun set and disappeared behind the Santa Monica mountains, I almost wanted to clap as if a band had just finished their encore.
We stayed on the beach for an extra few minutes to finish our drinks and snap a few photos; not a bad little Saturday night. We both committed to doing this more often. If I could, I would eat every meal on the beach. Take a second to see if you can find something worth pausing and admiring today.
It might just change your mood.
"Why are you crying?" - Me.
Over the years we have put a lot of miles on our second-hand, black, '00 Eddie Bauer Edition, Ford Expedition. Grandmom, as we called her, has taken us across the country multiple times. She has gotten us up and down the mountains in Colorado and guided us through deserts in Nevada, Texas, and California. We have been through the Great Plains together. Grandmom has made it through more National Parks than I can remember, down alleyways she could barely fit through, been parallel parked in spaces that mathematically didn't make sense, all while hauling our small enclosed trailer. Grandmom has been packed with musical equipment, as well as accidentally passing through a close-set movie filming. Grandmom does what Grandmom wants. We were just there for the ride.
Since moving back to Santa Monica, the old girl has been sitting for over a year collecting parking tickets. It is unfair for us to keep her stationary. Grandmom is a road-dog. She needs to get back out there to explore. She needs to stretch her legs and adventure. She has done a lot for us, and now it is time to pass her on to the next adventurer who can get her back on the road. We will miss you old girl.
It was not an easy decision to put Grandmom up for sale. The mean streets of Santa Monica and the greed of the city have put us in the tough position of downsizing. Santa Monica and the greater LA area makes it impossible for anyone to park on any street, at any time. Grandmom was getting parking tickets weekly on our residential street. We were spending more on her just sitting there than we had in the past 5 years on repairs, gas, and traveling across the country.
We never thought we would get this upset over selling an inanimate object. I was actually quite happy to post her "for sale" ad on Craiglist. I was fueled by the hate of paying never-ending parking tickets, but once someone actually responded to make a cash offer, the sale of Grandmom became real. At first, I was glad to get rid of her, but when I cleaned her out for the last time coming across nicknacks that had been lodged under the seats from the different hotels we had stayed at, or various gas stations we filled up at, it hit me. This was the end of our time together. As we drove to drop her off to her next owner, I was fighting back the tears. An overwhelming wave of gratefulness and guilt washed over me. It didn't help that Jamie was sprawled across the foldable-bench-seating in the rear bawling, I mean really ugly crying. Full on moans and sadness poured out of her, she was inconsolable. And, so was I - on the inside.
Handing over her title and signing over our liability of Grandmom was tough. My ears were hot, and my throat had swollen shut. It took everything in me not to cry. I patted her on the hood on last time and quietly whispered my thank yous to her for all she had done for us. She had essentially protected my family like it was her own. She had made sure we always got to our destination safely. I am glad we spent the last few years together, and I hope I treated you as well as you treated us.
Take care of your new owners like you took care of us, and I look forward to seeing you soon in auto-heaven.
Thank you, Grandmom.
"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!
"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!
"How the shit does this camera work?" - Us.
We love traveling. Getting out and adventuring into new terrain, excited for what we will see, who we will meet, and wondering if our van will make it through whatever off-the-beaten-track roads we come across in the heartlands of the country. We have found some of our favorite places on Earth just taking the next road we come across and going down it. The unknown is an addiction for Jamie and I. We thrive on it and reference Kath and Dave from Portlandia all too often. These characters live to be stressed out and over-obsessive. The sense of adventure can be romantic but thank our stars for roadside assistance.
I do not claim to be a photographer in any sense of the word. Most of my Camera Roll is pictures of either our dogs or accidental screenshots I have taken while attempting to open my iPhone. We do have an old Canon AE-1 film camera that we take with us when we travel and I freaking love it. My dad won it at a local auction house in the suburbs of Philadelphia. He got a box of vintage camera parts for his bid of $10, and this camera was still intact and functional. I feel like Peter Parker with this thing, plus it gives me a little cred when I see other self-proclaimed travel photographers with oversized, and overpriced, camera lenses the size of a Ford Focus, and weight just as much. I usually get an approving head nod or thumbs up when they see this camera strapped around my torso, bouncing on my hip.
Shooting on film is different from digital photography. There is no instant gratification. The only gratification is hearing the crisp click of the aperture capturing light. You have to line up your shot with film. You don't get to "Burst Mode" and snap a thousand photos in three seconds and then instantly review your work on a digital screen. You have to either get it right or don't. I try to keep a little journal and mental notes of lighting exposures to try to figure it all out. But, sometimes even when you mess up a setting or lighting, it still turns out great. I included some shots from our recent travels below and I love the way they turned out, even if some of them are a little dark.
Tough week? Well, here is the newest installment of the 6-Pack! We have six new rock-indie-alternative tracks exclusively on Apple Music to help you get into weekend mode - including new singles from Table Talk, Cold Wreck, Terror and more! Check it out now!
"Ah, shit! Burnt myself again!" - Me.
Sometimes, I cook. I am a very lucky man. I married a talented and beautiful woman who loves to cook. What else could a guy ask for? I am not completely helpless in the kitchen, but over they years my skills have gotten a little rusty with Jamie preparing most our meals. I have my culinary staples and tend to default to them when I run out of good ideas, or more importantly time. I can make a vegan chili like its nobody's business and my pancakes are second to none. Ask Jamie, she has given up on trying to make pancakes as good as mine in our household. It's just a fact, I can make pancakes, but she can make everything else better than me. It's a gentle balance in the Force.
That being said, this is just one example of how lucky I am to have a wife like mine. And, this is just an even longer way to tell her I wish her a Happy Valentine's Day and I am so in love with her. Even if Valentine's Day is a Hallmark holiday rooted in ancient Roman bloodshed and Pagan history, I love my wife. She puts up with all the stupid crap I do. She puts up with me acting like a jerk when I don't get my way and she still loves me at the end of the day.
Jamie - Thank you for all you do for us and for putting up with me. I love you and I am so proud and excited to be your husband. Here's to many more, I can't imagine going through this life without you.
Let's get burritos tonight.