Category Archives: quotes

Dimples That Can House the Ocean

The last couple weeks have been so full that, when contemplating how best to re-cap things, I find myself stumped.  If there’s a theme to be found, I’m guessing it is what it usually is….I’m some special variety of Lucky Bean.  Perhaps a hybrid bean made up of some parts Jelly, Mexican Jumping, Magic, Lima, Baked and Green?  James Garfield once said that, “a pound of pluck is worth a ton of luck” and I have been plucking and lucking like it’s my job…

The most noteworthy news would have to be my 3 days of documentary photography at Levon Helm’s Studio in Woodstock, NY.  Chris Castle rallied The Womack Family Band, Garth & Maud Hudson, Tommy Ramone, Gabriel & Salli Butterfield, Sandy Allen, Daphne Lee Martin and Carl Franklin together to make an album.  The session was masterfully run and engineered by Justin Guip and his assistant Brendan and, in a nutshell, it was amazing.   The atmosphere is something all by itself but add to that some rock and roll icons and 5 cameras and you’ve got a smile so wide my dimples could house the oceans.  I’m still editing away and hope to be able to share the work and – eventually – an album cover with you…fingers crossed.  Even if the work never sees the light of day, pays me nothing and costs me plenty it was a worthwhile experience and something I hope to do more of.  Though I will never complain about shooting rock shows, the quiet tension of the studio and added elements of hope and waiting and architecture challenged me in a new way.  It’s been a while since I have felt like a humbled and hungry artist….mostly becuase I’ve been consumed with my day job…but it feels great. 

You know what else feels great?  A whiskey-drunk Thile & Daves show at the Bell House.  I could not like these guys any more than I do and I especially love rocking the front row with a video-equipped recording device.  Here’s my favorite shot of the night and a little video clip.  If you want to see the rest of the album (published on their Facebook page by Red Light Management) click here and click here for a couple more videos.

Thile & Daves @ The Bell House

The down home goodness just kept giving when some besties rolled in from far and wide (VT, PA, SF) for some mexican food and karaoke.  The nice things about time rolling past us so fast is that good friends become good, old friends in no time flat.  Queso & Karaoke are always good fun and throw in a cute (and amazingly well-behaved baby) and it’s a party!

The gift of GOOD kept on giving for a third, yeah!  that’s right!, third night of Tragedy at the Brooklyn Bowl.  I skipped my weekly Glitter Anonymous meeting and decided to indulge for their finale and I’m glad I did.  You can check out the growing archive or Tragedy pix here or, if you’re lazy, just check out one of my favorites right here…

Tragedy @ Brooklyn Bowl

The text and life that occurred between all this rocking punctuation were as – perhaps even better – than everything else.  I’m beginning to feel like myself again after a long haul of identifying myself as an expatriate before whatever came next.  It feels like a long, cosmic exhale.  

Ahhhhhhh.

In the immortal words of Oprah, “Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure. “

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The Big Town: Chapter 3

Watching the headlight of the N Train crawl along the dirty, white tiles in the Court Street station this morning, I found myself captivated.  The same wonder and curiosity that I enjoyed in discovering the mundane details of a commute in Innsbruck or Hong Kong is not lost in the familiar and also new home I have in New York City.

It’s been just over a week and I am perfectly at home while still feeling totally unsettled.  I wish I had more cosmic weight and could simply yank all my belongings back to me with the force of gravity but, alas, I am at the mercy of the God of International Freight Forwarding Logistics.  She is not a benevolent or merciful God and, it appears, as though I will roll with the air mattress and my (tired) suitcase of things for another week.  This nomadic, sparse living should be something that I’m used to and, I am, but my lovely nest in Brooklyn is yearning for some furniture and I have been waiting years to dust off my pretty pictures and hang them on walls.  All in good time…

Would you believe that, in addition to simply arriving that I have already painted this town a whole rainbow of red?  Some notable dinners (Frankie’s b-day topping the favorites list), Mike Birbiglia on Barrow Street, Charlie Sheen at Radio City (that’s a whole story in itself) and I even had my first house guest.  It’s all a little disjointed in a way.  Making time for Charlie Sheen before making it to New Jersey to see my Gramps has confused me a little but, as I see it, my life is something of a Rubik’s Cube.  It will take some strategic shifting of this and sliding of that before things line up.

I can remember clearly turning 25 a few months after arriving in NYC in 2001.  Hopeful and open, I perched myself on the fire escape of my apartment on Cornelia Street and dove in.  10 years and a lot of miles later, I am perched on a stoop in Brooklyn Heights equally, if not more, hopeful about what lies ahead. 

”Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”  ~ Seneca

Here we go….

A Wise Man Once Said…

“The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.”

That smarty pants was old Abe Lincoln and, on the cusp of what is sure to be an intense and exciting 2011, I am taking this to heart and going to try my best to just take things as they come.  This is probably good advice for all of us, actually.  All the resolutions and promises and hopes and projects can, if we’re not careful, stifle our abilities to experience the present and leave us dissatisfied or somehow longing for what could’a, should’a or would’a been.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…presence is the best present so, for this new year in this new decade, I resolve to try and stay present and do the best with each day I’m given – whatever that might be.  That’s the kind of New Year’s resolution I can get behind…tangible enough to have some viable metrics but intangible enough that I have elbow room.

Sooooooooooooo 2010. . . . what were you all about?  And how am I better off because of you?

Probably at the top of the list (by a lot) would be mobility.  I was all about travel and all those destinations and quiet hours on trains and planes in between brought me the gift of perspective, some introspection and awe.  The past year saw my carbon footprint increase by leaps and bounds (a whopping 20,646 kg CO2 according to Dopplrs account of my recorded trips) as I traversed the planet for work and love and friends and family.  Japan, Bangkok (3x), Paris (2x), Vermont (2x), New Jersey (2x), Austria (2x), Macau (2x), New York City (3x), San Francisco, Los Angeles, Reno, Seattle, Santa Barbara, Rhode Island (2x), Boracay, Barcelona, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Phuket, Hanoi and – naturally, China (5x).  Wow.  The list is amazing, in and of itself, but what’s actually amazing is the breadth and depth of the stories that wove their way into my life on all those journeys.  Seeing myself cast against all these different places, Hong Kong included, whittled down my shell a little and helped reveal more of myself.  I’m utterly grateful for the ride, for the joyful erosion, the evolution and the frequent flier miles.  In case you missed any of the pix from these adventures (or would like to revisit them) here’s an easy link.

Next up after mobility, if I’m being honest, would have to be work.  I’d be a big fat liar if I pretended like I wasn’t a fierce workaholic this entire year.  Propelled by the uncertainty of my future and a vision and belief in what I was doing, I gave up a lot of opportunities for personal development in lieu of professional development.  I lost balance, stifled some of my more artistic aspirations and turned laser beam in a lot of ways.  Measuring ‘lost potential’ is an exercise for Paul Krugman  and not something I want to dabble in but, what I can say is that regardless of what I gave up, I have no regrets.  I attribute my triumphant return to greatest city on Earth to the work I did this year – all the late night con-calls and power point tweaks and lobbying and jockeying and politics seem worth it to me, though I do plan to try and restore balance again once I’m landed.

Hummm, now that I think about it, work and travel consumed the vast majority of my year.   In addition, I was lucky that music found it’s way into my life more regularly than is normally possible for a resident of Hong Kong.  MD just posed the question, ‘ how many peoples lives were saved by rock and roll?’ and I’m pretty positive that I was and am all the time.  I caught the Secret Machines, the Bobby McGees, Snowblind, Album Leaf, WEEN!!!!, Attack Release, The Futureheads, The National, Prins Nitram, Slash and the Punch Brothers in addition to the live, streaming Phish show that’s playing right now and all the songs and performances I’m forgetting.  Oh!  Like that Filipino duo in Qing Dao that knew every Lady Gaga song with dance moves to match :)  Flying into WEEN from Hong Kong was a highlight, for sure…as was shooting The National at Radio City and getting some shots of Album Leaf published in Time Out Hong Kong.  If you want to journey back to the dark corners and sweaty photo pits of my 2010, here’s a nice link.

The kiddos did some growing up, some new ones arrived (Happy 1st New Year, sweet Amelia!), the grow’d up kiddos did some growing older and everybody else moved and turned and bloomed and molted and learned and left and tried and did what they did.  With that in mind, life carried on and for that reason alone it was a banner year and I am grateful for all 365 days of it.

This new year promises some very big change for me…a return and also a new beginning.  I hope that the circle that follows me back around the planet is more like a spiral – elevating me a little while still placing me exactly in the same place where I began this epic journey almost 4 years ago.  For those of you with me now, I wish you upward spirals, patience, surprises, clarity and good parking karma for 2011.  Even when things get dicey this year – which they will – remember there’s nothing you can’t do…

Live to the Fullest!

Happy 11’s!!

How Way Leads to Way

About 18 days ago I began a superfood detox.  Unlike the hard core master cleanse that is more of a fast than a detox, the program that I began focused on replacing the food that I was used to eating with less quantities and more efficient superfoods.  Maca, Goji Berries, Spirulina, Raw Cacao and Virgin Coconut Oil have been the super stars along with oceans of water and plantations of fruit as well as some other yummy and “normal” delights like sashimi and veggies.  I think it was a conglemeration of the air, weather and superficial intensity of life in Hong Kong paired with my own inner turmoil about my work and direction that had me feeling clogged – metaphorically and literally – that was the root cause of my desire to detox.  I didn’t talk too much about this before now because the process of changing my habits and focusing more closely on how I treat myself had the effect of turning most of my energy into a new direction.

The first week was mostly about unrealistic expectations of new and “better” energy, sleeker profile and a new routine.  By the second week, I began to focus more on the root cause of why I was doing this.  It was at this point that my energy – remaining on par with what I usually feel – pointed inward and I stopped most creative output.  The blog and flickr pile seemed to fade in importance and, instead, I spent a lot of time focused on the routines of the detox and the ritual of the cleanse.  This translates literally into a shit ton of water, more careful food preparation, the beginnings of an excersice routine and a lot of television.  Simultaneously purging of the toxic film while allowing the news of the day to wash over me and find new ways in seems contradictory but this was the process and who am I to judge?  The sojourn to Boracay and time in the sand and water leeched out any remaining doubts I had about whether or not I was investing in something productive.  The temporary loss of my creative drive seemed like a reasonable compromise in the face of the powerful potential.

The only really hardcore aspect to this process, well the two really intense aspects, were the Liver Flush and subsequent ‘irrigation’ that followed.  Weeks of conscious fuel gave my body the cue to change its own oil and the flush was the detailing needed to make things sparkle.  I won’t go into the gritty details here but what I will say is that, for the rest of my life…as long as I live, I will do that process once a year.  It was spectacular and disgusting to see what I was brining with me through my days, tucked inside my Gall Bladder like lost luggage in an airport.  I told you it was intense.  And disgusting.  As these concentrated pieces were purged I could literally feel a weight lifting.  A clarity.  I’m not sure why, but for a moment I considered that maybe these poison pebbles were somehow emitting the words and threads that I tangle myself in constantly and I feared that letting them go would drain me.  How odd to think that bile and poison could be the root of my creative drive.  Envisioning memories and dreams embedded in fat and hair and words and stories living in stones struck me as somehow ridiculous and wonderful.  The result?  Purge, Cut and Sweat.  Let it go.  Let it all go.  Risk the fact that another word will not be uttered in this forum and I will wake up tomorrow an amnesiac.  Forget what I know and trust the process.

Whereas I was experiencing fear that I was allowing an important aspect of myself to deterioriate I realize now that I am allowing a new part of me to be born.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

~ Robert Frost

Minutes, Hours and Daze

Laying on the beach the other day at South Bay, tucked under the shadow of a tree, toes in the hot sand, I was watching the sun catch on a piece of cellophane.  The sparkle that would momentarily glimmer was fleeting, reducing the enlightened mirage to the litter that it actually was.  I stayed laying, waiting for the moment that the breeze would pick up and capture my eyes, forcing me to see only what was possible and not what was real.  I imagine that there are people that can go through life like that…and I always thought that I was one of them.   The disappointment in realizing that it wasn’t light but just garbage held my attention for a while.  I felt deceived and foolish up until I felt indifferent and satisfied.  Both were true – it was, in fact, garbage and it was also, in fact, beautiful.  This is life.  Finding beauty in litter or being dazzled by the way oil dances in rainbows on the surface of the Gulf  is not the moral of this story. . . 

Writing and erasing, drawing and deconstructing…the fumes of my dry erase marker were getting me high, possibly stirring the inspiration and also quite possibly impeding it.  One minute a complete solution and the next the heavy reality that change in the land of crystal moves at the speed of molasses in winter.  Exhiliration at the prospect at architecting a sublime answer to a hard question countered with the possibility that it will live and die in a manila folder and the back closet of my brain.  A little bit the opposite of the sparkeling trash, this is a gem lodged deep in bedrock.  All flash but no sizzle . . . surrendering ideas and underselling progress is not the moral of this story . . .

The moral actually isn’t clear to me and that is one reason why I am reluctant sometimes to write anything down.  If I had a nickle for every time I said that, “I’ll sit down to write my book when I know what the moral of the story is, ” I’d probably have about $10.00.  Hong Kong dollars.  As time disappears behind me, I am beginning to learn that there may or may not be a moral and maybe I shouldn’t wait for one to share the minutes and hours and daze.  Maybe I shouldn’t wait to try and make sense of all of this…it will most likely never fit into a neatly wrapped box, tied with a bow.  It will, more likely, slip and splash and burn and tickle with only moments of clarity or pockets of peace allowing interpretations of the now that will likely change later.  Write, revise, rethink, rewrite…repeat. 

Fast, Like in a Dream

My contemplative state of mind is half the result of a contract that’s expiring and another half the result of feeling creatively constipated, I think.  I’m grappling with all those big life questions like where? when?  who? how? and it seems like the stakes are getting higher.  Or at least the margin for error is getting smaller, anyway.  The point being that I need to choose wisely and, hopefully, find a solution that breaks the dam in my creative self without derailing the business developer who is paying for all this adventure and misadventure.  Allow a compromise but make sure that it’s fair to all my parts…recalibrate priorities to account for the fact that time is passing and I am getting older…reasses what ‘happy’ means and make sure that i’m ‘getting warmer.’  No biggie.  No pressure.  No wonder I am feeling stressed out… :)

Shifting away from my deep thoughts and internal conflicts, I can share that there is some good shit in the pipeline…some rock, some day trips, some travel and some family time.  Most notably, I’ll be back in Europe soaking up some tapas and sherry and family in Barcelona before another week in Paris.  This is good news and is a little like a carrot dipped in sugar helping carry me over the momentary hump.  With Macau, Slash and some other quikies lined up before Europa there should be some good stories – moral or no moral – to share soon.

  “And the moral of the story is that you don’t remember what happened. What you remember becomes what happened.” ~JG

Baroque Rock & Roll Trim

“I still only travel by foot and by foot, it’s a slow climb,
But I’m good at being uncomfortable, so
I can’t stop changing all the time…”

The topic of ‘making the most of it’ has crept into conversation the last couple weeks and something about that theme makes me ask myself if things are good enough if ‘making the most of it’ is how we roll…but on the other hand I can’t help but consider the luck of being surrounded (mostly) with a diverse group of people with this mindset.  Think about the possibilities.

The weekend went by way too fast and I moved way too slow to slam dunk it but Sunday managed to surprise me with some adventure so tonight I feel full and ready for the mayhem that is sure to begin tomorrow morning.  Friday night saw me miss a boat to Disco Bay and get drunk on sake instead.  Saturday consisted of a portrait session with The Buddies and some old movies so the thought-provoking wandering was condensed into this afternoon, starting with a sushi brunch and ending with a Caprese Salad.

Walter Sobchak

I’ve been aware the last week or so of the lack of creativity in my new world.  Sure, I write and take photographs but it’s been ages since I’ve made anything with my hands and painting or sculpting or crafting have always been some of what I do to stay sane.  Those of you who have tried it can vouch for the fact that life in a serviced apartment is sterile to the point of…the point of, well, it’s sterile.  Leaving my shoes spread around or some books on my table, I come home to find them put into cupboards or stacked neatly in the corner. Whatever creative burst I might have tonight will be stowed, dusted and vacuumed by the time I return to it and that’s not a hot thought.  I’m feeling corked in that capacity which could mean that something good could be brewing.

We headed out to Sham Shui Po today and went to town at the ribbon suppliers that line the place.  Neon pink, daffodil yellow, sea-foam green, beet velvet, slate gray and some baroque rock and roll trim was like aromatherapy for my eyes.  Not sure if you guys know this, but color therapy works.  I would just open the bag and see the tangle of color and feel a little jolt of electricity stream out from my eye sockets, into my brain.  I’m thinking that sewing is an easy enough craft to put down between sessions and might let loose with some color on an old tote bag.  Something about carrying heavy weight in a bag colored in with light and life and lust for all things rich and enveloping is a nice juxtaposition.  Perhaps this is why so many women will drop thousands of dollars on sunshine yellow Proenza Schouler satchels..so the weight of what they carry is contained in something comforting.  The weight that I carry now is heavy.  So much on the horizon.  Trips to book, plans to make, work to do…so much that it drives me to finding solace in a mash-up of neon velvet, pink lemonade and (the last couple days, anyway) Fiona Apple.

I appear to be on schedule.  I should be right at home around the time its time to pack my bag and hit the road. ‘If there was a better way to go than it would find me…I can’t help it but the road just rolls out behind me….’

You Can’t Unring a Bell

Wanting everything is something I can identify with.  Wanting everything, getting it and then wanting more is something that I can imagine, but it hurts my heart to think about. I don’t know what it is with us humans but we have this tendency to feel so entitled, so comfortable with consumption.  Disposing of the scraps, leaving crumbs behind but devouring the meat with such vigor that we lose ourselves for that moment only to re-emerge again confusing the pain in our gut with hunger instead of gluttonous excess.

About 5 months ago I woke up.  I realized for the umpteenth time that I can realize dreams with something as tiny as a thought and, as a result of that chronic revelation, I came to take much more care in my wanting.  I’m no sage, by any means, but I have learned a thing or two in the past few years.  Pushing 34 this week I am feeling particularly conscious of what I’ve managed to learn so far.  I’ll probably continue to push a boulder up a mountain for the rest of my days but I’m hopeful it will be a different boulder.  I can’t say the same for some of my loved ones.

I like to recount my story to new people who I meet and I had the chance to do so the past few days with some new friends here in Hong Kong.  I thought the same thing a few years back when I was internet dating a lot but that was a much more self-indulgent exercise than how it goes now.  I find that now, depending on the audience, I can narrow in on the lessons that have made me who I am with less emphasis on the superficial who-did-what-to-whom drama that is good for an hour in the dark with popcorn but not for a sustained dialogue between people, friends, lovers and family.

There’s a ton and a half of sub-text and lifetimes squeezed between these lines but this is not the time or the place.  What I do know is that having everything you ever wished for will likely leave you wanting more and then what do you do?  Throw ‘everything’ away reaching for more?  Aesop wrote a fable about that and I have found myself quoting it many times in the past couple years….here is yet another moment when I’m cringing in my seat hoping the dog can make it across the bridge without being a douche bag….kind of like those B-grade horror films when you just want them to leave the basement without opening the closet door.

The Dog and his Reflection
A Dog, to whom the butcher had thrown a bone, was hurrying home with his prize as fast as he could go. As he crossed a narrow footbridge, he happened to look down and saw himself reflected in the quiet water as if in a mirror. But the greedy Dog thought he saw a real Dog carrying a bone much bigger than his own.

If he had stopped to think he would have known better. But instead of thinking, he dropped his bone and sprang at the Dog in the river, only to find himself swimming for dear life to reach the shore. At last he managed to scramble out, and as he stood sadly thinking about the good bone he had lost, he realized what a stupid Dog he had been.

It is very foolish to be greedy.

We all know that we should be lucky for the gifts we have in life.  Our health.  Our families.  Our children, siblings, parents, pets, friends, etc.  We know we should be grateful for the food in our refrigerators, the blankets under which we sleep, the electricity that magically lights up our lamps, tvs and computers.  We know this and yet we still need more.  We still manage to lose perspective with all we have and feel starved…neglected…deprived and victimized.  It’s ridiculous among other things but I guess this is the plight of some humans.  The cosmic hole that seems to need filling is bottomless and to continue to try to fill it could  absorb the whole damn universe and even leave room for expansion.

I felt sorry for myself today waking up to the greasy, gray light that this city is so frequently dipped in.  For some moments this morning I thought that some new clothes or cameras or plane tickets might ease my uneasy feeling and potentially fill my empty space but I chose another path today.  I resisted my urge to fill the carpetbag that is my life and sat with myself instead.  I sat with myself in my lovely apartment and thought about how lucky I was to have what I have.  To know who I know.  To have seen what I’ve seen.

If I could make one wish…only one wish…I would wish that everybody was content with all they had.  Those with everything and nothing alike.  Satisfied that whatever they have is enough and anything else is a blessing.  Of all the wishing I’ve done, this one is a biggie and not so realistic but for today I say fuck realistic.  If just one of you reading this can recalibrate with me back to a baseline that starts with gratitude instead of need than that’ll be something and we’ll be a little closer…

You Can't Unring a Bell