We've been busy lately—both personally as a couple and socially / professionally with all kinds of previous commitments—and a peek at next week's calendar shows me that there'a no end to event after event in sight.
I know I'm all go-go-go most of the time, but even I'm getting a little exhausted from all this.
I've been going to shows for decades and luckily have no hearing loss because of that. I don't know why. I should be deaf, given the number of times I've been standing right next to a speaker that was in front of the stage. I'm just lucky.
However two times in recent memory I've woken up in the morning and been like "damn, what the fuck is up with my ears?!" The first time was after practicing with America's #1 Sweetheart when I realized that drumming without earplugs in the middle of a sea of amps was probably a bad idea, even for me. And the second time was this morning, after seeing Local H play a surprise show for Herb's birthday party at Liar's Club last night.
I guess I do have my limits. Does that mean I'm human after all?
I'm in one of those periods where I'm literally drowning in new music. So much so it's hard to listen to it all. When it's all crap it's easy for me to listen once and move along but lately a rash of albums has arrived that are good; good enough to listen to multiple times, causing me to struggle to find the time to do just that.
It's not exactly an awful problem to have, but it does cause me a little anxiety if I think about it too much. So maybe I should stop thinking about it and just get back to the music.
Part of me continues to get mildly embarrassed every time I have to say Diarrhea Planet's name out loud to someone whom I am trying to convince of their genius, but I'm pretty sure that's the point of them choosing the name they did. Anyway, they have a new video, and it is predictably awesome.
Did you know Kylie Minogue was O.L.D.? At least that's what you'd be led to believe if you read most of the pieces written about her recently. The primary theme seems to be "OMG Kylie is wearing such skimpy clothing and playing up the sex kitten angle and OMG if I was 45 and looked like her and could still pull that off I so totally would!"
Which, of course, the fact Minogue is 45 and sooooo ancient but can still pull this off is to be respected. Because 45 is so old. And holy moly, old people being sexy? How totally gross.
The headline really does say it all, but let me unpack it a bit for you. As you grow into an editor* you learn that a good editor gives feedback and doesn't just make changes. And often if they have feedback, they do have an answer in mind** but realize it's more important for the writer to get there in their own way, because often what they decide is the proper solution is better than what you had in mind in the first place. That's called collaboration.
The hardest part of being a good editor is resisting the urge to "just do it myself."
*Though, really, you can insert any number of positions here. I know my largest strides in this space were made in my past roles as a senior copywriter and then a creative director. My current roles as a writing director at the 9-to-5 and a Senior Editor at Chicagoist have given me a really large pool of very talented writers and designers to really hone my skills in this area.
**You better have an answer in mind because if you don't that means there's no strategy behind your feedback and you're probably just being a jerk.
I was hard at work on a piece about writers ungrateful for the opportunities they're given and bitter about the successes of those they feel are less deserving—a mindset I think only exists in "writers of a certain age" nowadays, and for once that age is in the younger set of brackets and not in the angry-old-person realm—and I realized there's enough negative bullshit swirling around today and I didn't need to add to it by stating, what to most, is the obvious.
I don't always manage to do it, but today I take the high road.
Photo of GalPal in front of the Chicago River by me!
No plans for the bars tonight, and stayed away from the bars tomorrow. We did head down to the river on Saturday since I had never actually seen it dyed green. Then we absconded to sketchy bars on the South Side, none of which was filled with Trixies and Chads puking green.
A little known fact, well not so little known if you know me, is that as a young l'il artist I had dreams of being a syndicated cartoonist. I did comics for my high school paper and then daily strips for my college paper when I was a freshman and sophomore. I never really stopped drawing, and some of my stuff was really good, but the chances of "making it" required far more drive and deviation than I was willing to devote to that pursuit. I was too busy drinking and being in a band and working in a bar and chasing girls and basically acting the part of a living early '90s cliché.
All that is to say I have an enormous respect for comics (duh) and newspaper cartoonists in particular. Some of my biggest heroes—including Winsor McCay, Will Eisner , Berkley Breathed, Gary Larson, and Bill Watterson—all did their finest work, so much of it just absolutely ground breaking, in newsprint on a grueling schedule and to this day that blows my mind.
So all that is to say I look forward to seeing the documentary Stripped and see what it has to say about the history and current state of that particular corner of the art world. Because newspaper comics are an art, my friend.
Photo by me. Yes, I know those are Deadmau5 helmets, and not Skrillex.
I just listened to the new Skrillex album and it didn't kill me. It did make me realize how stupid it is to slam him, or even mock dubstep in general, because considering how much I liked Fatboy Slim and The Chemical Brothers and Big Beat and pined for more aggression in my dance music in my early 20s it's not hard to see myself liking this stuff had it come out then too. It's big fucking dumb electronic dance music, and while I prefer something a little more interesting now, I can't fault Skrillex or his ilk for this mega crowd pleasing stuff. Personally, when I'm around the crowds getting down to this I find it squirm-worthy, but that might have more to do with the mega bro and sex kitten culture that seems to be triggered by crowds that size. But that's a whole 'nother story
For once I'm not really angry with SXSW.* The Tech segment went by with barely a burp in any of my social media feeds, leading me to believe that while the place might be packed, its no longer making immediate ripples. From what I can tell not much of lasting value happened, and many companies seem to be sending less lower level people, leading to the senior level folks left to backslap each other. This is mainly conjecture, but I do have to admit my surprise at how quiet it's been. Even the things that annoyed me, like the vapid "XXX I used to/currently work with giving such a great panel on YYY. SO PROUD" tweets and Instagrams only caused me mild annoyance that swiftly passed.
I still find the Music segment more perplexing, and that's primarily because while I can see some value in some infinitesimal segment of the Tech peeps connecting with each other in a way that perhaps has value to their bottom line, I can't figure out who benefits from SXSW Music outside of the economy of Austin.**
For instance, every publicist claiming to be happy because big shows at SXSW like Kanye West and Jay-Z, Lady GaGa, Soundgarden—and a bunch of other arena sized acts performing because some brand wants their stardom and cultural cache to build their social currency—are going to draw the inattentive crowds away allowing musical tastemakers to attend their uncrowded showcases and allow their bands to shine and further their careers are lying. They are not happy about this. Because musical tastemakers, what few actually attend the conference any longer, want to be where the action is and that equates to party when you're in Austin in mid-March. And let's not even pretend most of those tastemakers actually influence any tastes any longer.
So in the end, I'm not angry, but I am honestly trying to figure out why I or anyone else would even go to SXSW for any reason other than an adult Spring Break? Even in the last five years the fading excuse that it might have some positive effect on a band's career seems to have seems to have been completely obliterated by the current state of affairs, unless of course you're a band that already routinely sells upward of 500,000 albums or more with every release. Then SXSW might be worth your time.
*To be fair, I've been annoyed by SXSW and questioned it's relevance in the past, but was never really angry AT the fest. This year I'm just less annoyed, if by result more confused, by SXSW 2014.
I saw Miley Cyrus and not only lived to tell the tale, I had a pretty good time.* When writing my review of the show I struggled with whether to get into the whole "appropriate role model" thing with her vis a vis younger fans and decided that, no, I'm probably not really qualified to parse that discussion. In the ned I'm viewing people a couple generations removed from me at this point and all I have to do is say out loud to myself (at that age you would wear dresses in public because you thought 'why not/'"so I'm open to the idea of youthful expression I may find slightly foreign or uncomfortable without the need to condemn it.
*To clarify the entire experience, I had a good time at the show. Let's not talk about the nightmare that is suburban public transportation, or more accurately the complete absence of any dependably showing up resulting in me taking a cab to the show and walking for an hour and a half back to a train after the show. PACE busses can suck it. I'd tell them that to their faces if any had ever shown up even anywhere close to their posted schedule. Who knew someone could make the CTA look like a rock star?!
I keep forgetting at my current 9-to-5 I can actually take time off and it means I'm taking time off, not checking email 4,376 times a day while ostensibly using a "vacation day." This results in a day I actually enjoy as a personal holiday. A guy can get used to this!
At the 9-to-5 things have been a little hectic but we've launched two websites I was heavily involved with over the last two days so I'm feeling pretty awesome tonight. I love the feeling of seeing something you and a team of great people have worked on to get perfect physically pop into public existence. It's awesome.
I don't know about the rest of you, but while I strive for the light I'm well aware that's driven by a moral compass that is often doing its best to not get sucked in by the darkness. I was thinking about the phrase "she makes me want to be a better person" and realized that it has a counterpart; "she makes me want to be a worse person." You know, the situations where all of your darker desires and less ethical reasoning seems to flourish when within a particular person's orbit. And is it really an absolute station? Sometimes we need to be a worse person, or at least acknowledge the light isn't for everyone. It's a choice, really.
It's taken me a long time, and while I love the girls who make me a worse person I think I finally understand that, at my core, it's the one that makes me want to be a better person because my deepest satisfaction—and believe me, this surprises me as much as you—comes when I prove up to that task.
I'm not always up to that task, I know that, but I keep trying. And lately, it doesn't feel like a struggle; it feels natural. And that makes me think maybe, just maybe, I'm becoming a better person.
I called in sick today. This is remarkable in itself since I never call in sick and realized that's probably because of FOMO more than anything else but as I've grown older I'm realizing the world will turn with or without me and things will run much more smoothly if I'm healthy. It's even more remarkable because I made the usual offer of "I'm available in case of emergency" only to have my boss tell me absolutely not, take an actual sick day and don't do any work from home. That is truly a unique experience for me, even more so because I know he meant it and it wasn't just words spoken with the expectation they'd be ignored and I'd put in a full eight hours no matter what.
The end result? I actually feel rested and well this evening, and not worn out and even more run down. And tomorrow i'm ready to go back in and tackle the world at 100% power.