My Musical Journey

As I’ve said before, I think music is a wonderful thing that influences us and helps make us who we are. My musical journey started when I was young, and hopefully won’t stop until I’m dead.

The first memory I have is listening to “Born to Run” on one of the first trips up to Maine, and to this day I still love it. I’ve always had a soft spot for classic rock, it’s what my parents played in the house, it’s the first genre I delved into when I started to get interested in music, and some of it’s still in my rotation today, but I like to ease off for a while and get that nostalgic feeling that comes with it. I was that weird kid in middle school who thought that today’s music sucked, and that 60’s and 70’s music was the best there was. I was kind of a pretentious little shit back then.

Toward the end of middle school up into high school, I started listening to some more contemporary music, things like Metallica, Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, and Linkin Park. These artists spoke to me more than the artists my parents listened to, and I felt like they understood what it was like to be an sad, angry suburban kid in the 21st century. I don’t really listen to most of the albums I was obsessed with back then, I revisted them recently, and a vast majority of them suck, but they still meant the world to me, and those feelings I had when I was 13 make up for it.

Toward the end of my sophomore year of high school, I was looking on YouTube for something new, and I stumbled on an Eminem video. This was my introduction to rap. I was blown away by The Eminem Show and the Slim Shady LP, but my parents hated it, which made me like them even more. As I listened to more and more Eminem, my YouTube suggestions lead me to discover artists like Ice Cube and Cypress Hill. I didn’t even smoke weed yet, but I still loved Cypress Hill. I remember seeing tickets go up for a Cypress Hill show nearby, but when I thought about how my parents would react when they heard their music, I reconsidered going, which was probably for the best, since I don’t think a nerdy 14-year old white kid from a small farm town would fit in with the weed-smoking 90’s rap fan.

I really don’t want to admit this, but when I first started smoking weed, I was obsessed with the Kottonmouth Kings. I was 16, and convinced that they were better than Eminem and Dr.Dre. I’d play Long Live the Kings and Rollin’ Stoned for my friends, but they were still into hardcore and metal, so while it wasn’t really their thing, I have to give them immense credit for putting up with it and soldiering through.

My music tastes started to really evolve when my friends and I started partying. Nobody wants to here “A Little Piece of Heaven” at a party, it scares the girls away. As we met more people, we listened to their music too. One of the first people to expand my rap knowledge was our friend/friendly neighborhood weed guy Tom, who introduced me to some of the most important artists in my life, people like Mac Miller, Logic, J.Cole, and Kendrick Lamar. He also introduced me to a lot of garbage that I can’t stand to this day. I related to these people, mostly Mac and Logic, because at the time I was partying a lot, looking forward to college, to getting out of my town and making something of myself, and I looked up to these people a few years older than me doing exactly that.

As I began college, I was still listening to all of the music I’d always listened to, but as I went to frat parties and hung out with douchebags, I started getting into people like Jay-Z and Kanye West. I was blown away by the production, I still am. As college proved to be a really tough environment, I started using music to cope with the fact that sometimes I couldn’t get out of bed or do anything else. Specifically, Watching Movies With the Sound Off was my soundtrack, and it’s still one of my favorite albums, but hearing certain songs like “I’m Not Real” and “The Star Room” brings back memories of smoking joints by myself at 2am, thinking about how bad my life was getting.

I was stuck in a funk for a long time, leaving college because I was failing classes because I was either too depressed to get out of bed to go to class, or because I was too hungover to do my homework because booze temporarily made me feel like a person. This lead to me coming back to that sleepy farm town I’d worked so hard to get away from. I started working at Dunks, and with that, started having time to kill, so I filled it by listening to albums. Now, at this time I was working 10 hour days 6 days a week, so I had a lot of time to listen to new music. This period of time is when I discovered a wealth of new music that I adore to this day.

The first album I heard was Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and it blew me away. I’d listened to Kanye in college, but it was usually just the older album and the hits, so when I heard “Runaway” for the first time, I was blown away. I’d never heard so many good songs on one album before, back to back to back, and I finally understood why people put up with Kanye’s shit.

During the Dunks Period, I started to branch out my tastes, which lead me to discover Anderson. Paak. I was blown away, it was like the music I used to listen to as a kid got a makeover, and became fresh and relevant. Malibu was my entrance to soul music, albeit in a modern sense. As I dove into soul music, I started listening to jazz and big band music, and started to value live instrumentation in all forms of music, especially rap. I discovered Avantdale Bowling Club, a project by New Zealand rapper Tom Scott, and I was blown away. It was everything I’d been looking for in an album: it had great rapping, it had live instrumentation, it had a message about coming home and growing up that spoke to me on a material level, and it was a cohesive piece of art. Hell, I’m probably going to go play that record right now, it’s one of my favorite in my collection.

As time went on, I started to get bored with listening to the same ol’ music all the time, so I looked for something new to scratch that itch. I found myself listening to a lot of indie music, Speedy Ortiz, Portugal the Man, Bright Eyes, Beach House, Gorillaz, The Internet, Tame Impala,and many more. This new influx of sounds and ideas really hooked me, and I still love all of the music I discovered back then, and I’m super looking forward to hearing the new Bright Eyes album.

Recently, I’ve gotten more into jazz, specifically modal jazz, from people like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Duke Ellington. I like the creativity and musicality involved, no structure, no limits, just artistic expression. It does make me feel hella old and lame when I put on Frank Sinatra songs in the car with my friends, but fuck them, they can walk if it bothers them that much.

I like to think that the music I’ve listened to shaped me in a way, made me a better, more rounded person. I’m still immensely curious, I’ll listen to just about anything, except for EDM, because I’m not a 20-year old frat kid on Molly, but anything else, I’ll probably give it a listen. I’ve been collecting records, not only because they definitely sound better, but they also serve as a sort of time capsule for me so when I get older I can look back at these records and remember what it was like to discover them, and how different life was back then.

My Last Day

Today’s the day. It’s finally here. I’ve thought about this moment so many times that whatever happens, I know it won’t live up to the fantasy I’ve created. I’ve decided that instead of doing all the usual unnecessary shit that I do throughout my work day, I’m going to take stock and think about what I’ll miss about this place, and what I look forward to never doing again.

What I’ll Miss:

1. Free Coffee.

2. The few nice Customers.

3. Getting out at 7 on Sunday’s.

4. Fucking with rude people.

5. Locking the doors on people after we close.

6. Listening to music on the store speakers.

7. Trying new flavor combos in my coffee.

8. Hashbrowns.

9. Customers leaving nice reviews on Yelp.

10. Customers leaving ridiculous reviews on Yelp.

11. Giving stressed-out people free coffee, because we’ve all been there.

12. Listening to Raj yell at people for unreasonable things, like using the bathroom he just cleaned.

13. Listening to Raj act super nice when his boss is around.

14. Scaring new Dunks employees with customer horror stories.

15. Listening to full albums at work.

16. Introducing customers to music.

What I Won’t Miss Even A Little:

1. That On-The-Go ringtone that never shuts up.

2. Getting yelled at by entitled morons who think this is an upscale restaurant.

3. People throwing money at me like I’m a bad stripper.

4. Customers complaining because the prices aren’t the same as they were in 1976.

5. Coming home covered in greasy fat and coffee stains.

6. Customers assuming I speak perfect Spanish because I work at Dunks.

7. People placing $50+ orders, and not tipping after.

8. Customers taking money out of my tip jar to avoid breaking a bill.

9. People snapping their fingers while I make their food because they think it’ll speed things up.

10. Blatant heroin users coughing on their money and handing it to me.

11. Drunk people asking if I can add liquor to their drinks.

12. Customers making up flavors and expecting me to know what they are.

13. Parents who bring their crying kid in, and leave them at the counter.

14. Getting 4am calls from the District Manager, asking where the TV remote is.

15. Getting calls at 4:15am from said manager after she finds the remote.

16. Getting called in at 8:30am for a 12pm shift.

17. Having to work 3am-8pm because someone didn’t show up.

18. Coffee “connoisseurs” who can apparently tell the difference between 17 creams and 18 creams in their small iced coffee.

19. People who want their coffee “extra extra light”, then complain that their coffee is too light.

20. Having customers talk on their phone at the counter when they should be ordering.

21. Getting called racist because I ask someone to repeat themselves after they order in another language.

22. Getting cold brew thrown at me because “It’s not cold enough!”

23. Customers getting angry that we don’t have Pumpkin Spice in July.

24. Customers getting offended when I ask if they want their coffee iced or hot.

25. Old people telling me that “Hey Yeah” is The Devil’s Music™️.

26. People who try and order food 45 minutes after the ovens are off.

27. Customers who order small coffees in extra-large cups because they think they’re beating the system.

28. Getting yelled at because I didn’t finish the work that someone else was supposed to do.

29. Getting asked 6 times in a row if the decaf coffee they ordered is actually decaf.

30. Customers who don’t understand what “regular” means, and get mad when they order a regular and it’s not what they wanted.

31. Being told I got a raise, and making the same amount of money every week.

32. Having to do my boss’s paperwork because she wants to go home early.

33. Customers paying for big orders with change.

34. When I greet customers at the counter, and they look at me like I’m offending them.

35. Confused customers who try and get me to pump their gas because they don’t understand how 2 stores can share a building.

36. Customers who get mad that their coffee is on the counter, and not wherever they want to wait for it.

37. Parents who point at me and tell their kids “This is what happens when you don’t go to college!”

38. Overly-complicated sandwich orders that make no sense

39. Having to fix at least one piece of equipment every shift, none of which is ever replaced.

40. Always being out of something that multiple customers want

41. Getting yelled at because we’re out of something a customer wants.

42. Being treated like I’m less than a person because I work at Dunks.

43. Having to pee outside like an animal because the bathroom doesn’t work.

Goodbye, and good riddance

Heaven

You hear so many things about Heaven, there are entire religions based on getting there, but what’s up there?

For me, my totally-uninformed, hopeful take on it is this: Heaven is whatever you want it to be.

For me, Heaven is a place with unlimited resources and time, somewhere I can just creatively go crazy without any restrictions or concerns. Think about it: all of the most creative people who have ever lived, all in one place. There must be billions of songs, paintings, movies, you name it.

I get really annoyed when I have a decent idea that I can’t execute, so thinking there’s a place where all of those ideas can be fleshed out and expanded makes me feel good, and I want to be able to talk to history’s best thinkers and writers and come up with better ideas to work on.

I want to be able to bounce taglines off of David Ogilvy. I want to pitch movie ideas to Stanley Kubrick. I want Picasso to teach me how to paint. I want to learn how write more coherently from Bukowski and Hemingway. I hope all of those people are just up in Heaven, sitting at a cloudtop bar sipping drinks and swapping ideas for all eternity.

I’m not going to know what Heaven’s like for a long time, ( hopefully, although life is weird, so you never know) so I’ll just have to do my best with what I’ve been given.

I Hate the Holidays

Christmas is a time of joy and celebration. At least, that’s what it’s supposed to be. For me, Christmas is a giant pain in the ass. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending Christmas Day with my parents, but everything else just sucks.

When I was younger, I thought the Christmas Spirit was a real thing, because everyone seems happier during the holidays. Turns out, the Christmas Spirit is bourbon. Now that I’m older, I totally get why the adults seemed happy and cheerful: they were drinking to decompress from the stress of the season.

Christmastime especially sucks when you’re underemployed. I work a bullshit job that I hate, and all my relatives have kids who’ve gone off to work for NBC, or law school, or medical school, or are married already. When I tell them that I’m single, graduated, and living at home, they look at me the same way I look at people who play music loudly in public without headphones.

That’s another thing, whoever said “Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year” has never been yelled at by a 75-year old man because their eggnog latte “didn’t taste enough like eggnog” People are stressed out this time of year, and it makes them extra shitty sometimes, and we’re supposed to just smile through it?

I know I’m going full Bah Humbug here, but it’s true, Christmas sucks. The only things I like about it are 1) getting a tree and decorating it with the folks, 2) listening to the Frank Sinatra Christmas album, and 3) getting my parents gifts I know they’ll love. That’s it.

In Search of Isolation

I don’t like people. I used to, but years of customer service have ruined whatever interest I had in meeting new people, and that’s a problem.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think people are getting worse. Maybe I’m biased, but I’ve dealt with way too many assholes lately for it to be a coincidence. Either that, or I’m slowly dying inside.

Whenever the world gets to be too much for me, I like to sit in my room and listen to my records. I know that being by yourself all the time isn’t the best for your mental health, but it’s much better for me than going outside.

I don’t know if my love of isolation will come back to bite me, I’m sure that it’s definitely strained my relationship with my friends and family, and it’s not exactly great for my dating life, but it’s something I desperately need to keep functioning.

Why is that? Why do I feel out of place, floating from one place to another like an errant cloud? Is there something wrong with me, and I just can’t see it? I used to love meeting new people and experiencing new things, but now it’s just a pain in the ass, and I’d rather spin up Malibu and write articles about nothing.

This post is getting heavy, so here’s a baby giraffe.

Boston Bungle: Why I Hate Leaving My House

For my friend’s birthday, we decided to do something different for a change and go to Boston for a night out. It went poorly. The journey in was a nighmare, but I thought it was just a momentary road block. Turns out, it was just the first thing to go wrong.

The Game Plan

We had a decent game plan: my friend Caleb and I would drive into the city early, get a parking spot that was affordable (not easy to do in Boston on a Friday night), and wait for my other friend Sherman to take the train to North Station. Easy peasy right? Wrong.

To The City

After arriving at Caleb’s house, we begin our trek into the city. Since Caleb used to drive into the city every day for work, he drives in, since I’m a very bad city driver, and would like to survive the night. It turns out this would be one of the better choices I made that night. Driving into the city on a Friday is one thing, but it was also Halloweekend, and there was a Celtics game that night, so we couldn’tve had worse timing. Cars littered the Mass Pike like some post-apocalyptic wasteland, none of them moving for minutes at a time. Wonderful. 20 minutes later, we were finally in Boston. Our next challenge was dealing with Boston drivers, who are a whole different species than regular drivers. Our welcome into the city was performed by a Silver Honda who had blocked both lanes.

A regular day in Boston

Now, I’m pretty tolerant of stupid people, but this guy was too much, not only did he block both lanes, preventing anyone else from passing, but it turned out he was waiting to pick someone up. After almost getting hit by 3 additional morons, we arrive to the parking garage had in mind. I knew the night had taken a turn when I saw the two worst words you can see on a parking garage: “Lot Full” Great, now we have to find another one that’s not too far away, and isn’t going to scalp my wallet. After driving a additional 10 minutes around the Seaport, we got lucky: a lot for only 7 dollars an hour, an oasis in a sea of 50 dollar parking. I get my ticket, and put it straight in my wallet as I always do. Thank God I did.

Finding Sherman

Now for the fun part: finding one person in a sea of thousands leaving the TD Garden after a Celtics win.

Imagine 3,000 of these people, but drunker

After walking a mile and a half in the blistering Boston wind, Caleb and I arrive at the Garden. We looked for Sherman for around 10 minutes before calling him, apparently he was waiting on the other side of the street, which explains why we couldn’t find him. We eventually pick him out of a crowd of drunk basketball fans who were singing a barely-recognizable version of Don’t Stop Believing. After finally meeting up, we decide to nix our plan and go straight for the nearest bar that didn’t look crazy packed.

Bar Experience

Now, I’m not a big “crowds” guy, so I usually avoid crowded bars and places where I have to yell to talk, but I’m trying to get out and be more outgoing and such, so I thought it would be good for me to go to a more populated place. Within 45 seconds of arriving, I reconsidered my decision. The bar that had looked so empty and quiet on the outside was actually packed to the rafters with Finance bros in their Brooks Brothers suits and Patagonia vests. The only upside of this location was how quickly I was served a beer, the bartender was on top of her game, and I appreciated how quickly I had a beer in my hand. After learning that thevbar had a second floor, we mosey on over, taking an elevator up. I’d never drank beer in an elevator before, it was pretty cool. After reaching the second floor, we see that while it is less packed than downstairs, this part of the bar is still overpopulated with Patagonias. Surprisingly, we find a table and sit down. As I sip my overpriced beer, I start to be immersed in the conversations around me, none of them very interesting, most about basketball, the rest about how much working in Finance rocks, and how laid they’re going to get. Way to break stereotypes there guys. We finish our drinks and decide not to stay at this expensive post-graduation frat house. As we leave, Caleb suggests we stop at Pizzeria Regina, an amazing pizza place that’s open until the wee hours of the night. It’s half a mile away.

Rejuvenation at Regina’s

As we walk to Regina’s, I notice that we are very far away from our parking lot, and that we have quite a trek ahead of us on our way back. That didn’t matter, I was fixated on having a couple slices of amazing pizza and a beer or two, everything else was unimportant at the time. Just as we’re starting to have second thoughts, we see it: the giant neon sign for Regina.

Hello, you beautiful bastard

We made it. After a brief wait, the server seats us and takes our order. Now, my pizza taste is a little odd, I’ve been in this pesto sauce mood lately, so I’ve been experimenting with different toppings. Tonight, I ordered a bacon pizza with pesto sauce. 5 minutes later, the server comes back with a chicken and pesto pizza, which isn’t a problem for me, but our server felt so bad that she offered to put extra bacon on it for no extra charge. How nice of her. After another couple minutes, she drops off this monster of a pizza with more toppings than cheese, and we all dig in like it’s our last meal on Earth. After we finish our beers and pizza, we begin the long walk back to the parking lot.

Finding the Car

By this point, it’s 12:30, and I’m starting to get tired, but we have a 3 mile hike before I can sit down and relax, so I figured the only way through it is to do it. We made it about a mile before I realize that the address on the parking ticket is for the wrong garage, and we’d been walking in the wrong direction for 20 minutes. Shit. Usually, every parking ticket I’ve ever gotten has the address and name of the garage, making it easy to find where you parked. Not this one. After having a mini panic attack at the thought of losing my car in Boston at 1 in the morning, my mind starts working. I check the GPS tracking app on my phone to see where we had stopped, and after double-checking with Google that it was indeed the place, we resume our journey. Around 30 minutes later, we arrive at where my GPS says my car is. There’s just one problem: it’s not the right lot. Now I really start freaking out, Caleb’s got work at 730, I’ve got to come in early myself, it’s going to be at least an hour and a half before I get home, and I can’t find my car. Things are looking bleak. After pacing around the area thinking of a plan, I see it, the most beautiful sight I’d seen all night: my car. After letting out a scream of joy, we rush over to the car, pay the 18 dollars for our parking, and get the Hell out of Boston. It’s 1:30.

The Journey Home

Now, I’d say Caleb drove like a bat out of Hell, but that wouldn’t accurately describe how fast this man left the city. I’d liken it to how a husband drives his wife to the hospital when she’s in labor. What’s usually a 45 minute drive took us 32, which I was thankful for. As we near Sherman’s car, Caleb starts looking tired, and his driving skills start to suffer. Seeing ad he had to get up in 4 hours, I decide to take over and let him rest a bit. As I sped home, I thought about how we’d laugh at how terrible this night was later. When I finally arrived back at my house, it was 3:15am. I set my alarm clock for 8:30, cringing when I saw how much time I had before I had to wake up.

I could’ve stayed home, watched Mad Men, and been asleep by 11:30. This is why I don’t like to leave my house.

Why Going to the Gym is Great

When you hear people say they want to get into shape, where do they always say they’ll go? The gym. Where do those people never end up going? The gym. They’re missing out.

I have a lot of pent-up energy thanks to my ADHD, so I spend a lot of my time thinking about how to manage that energy. The most efficient way I’ve found is hitting the gym. The gym is the best place for me to burn off that pent-up aggression and anger and turn it into something productive. My gym routine is simple: I start off with a nice stretch, just to knock the dust off and limber up a bit. This is to make sure that my body doesn’t break more than it’s supposed to. After I’m good to go, I get on the bike and do 20 minutes of rigorous cardio while making fun of my friends on Twitter and checking the news. After burning a couple hundred calories, and losing faith in humanity, I move to weights. My weights routine is pretty simple: the first day I start with the lowest weight that provided resistance, do a set of 25, take a 30 second rest, add 10 pounds, rinse and repeat until my body decides that I should stop. This probably isn’t the most efficient workout, but it works for me. By the second day, my body usually isn’t too pleased with me, so I go a different route, quantity over quality. I start with my usual stretches, but instead of punching my muscles in the face, I take it nice and slow. I start around 60-70lbs and do 5 or 6 sets of 30. After working on all the various muscle groups and jamming out to some angry music, I grab a protein shake and go home.

The gym is very important to me, it keeps me balanced, and I definitely need to be balanced. Whenever I miss a day, not only does my body feel like it’s missing something, my mind does too. Whenever I get irrationally angry and grumpy, I can tell that I either need to hit the gym or write to make all that bad voodoo go away. The most important part of my gym experience is the music I bring with me. Usually, I like to fill my playlist with music that motivates me to go a little further, or that pisses me off enough to push through the pain. Recently, I’ve been putting a lot of Bobby Shmurda, Denzel Curry, Vince Staples, and All That Remains on my gym playlist. These all help put me into the mindset that I can do anything, and that anything that gets in my way will be destroyed. It’s easy to run 5 miles when ScHoolboy Q is (allegedly) shooting up the block over a DJ Dahi beat that sounds like the soundtrack to a home invasion.

In summary, for those of you who like to skim through articles, GO TO THE GYM. You won’t regret it, and you’ll feel better about yourself, and your physical ability.