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The Unbearable Unfairness of Being

So I saw an artist last week.... an NPR-darling kind of artist. A two-nights-sold-out-at-the-Ace-hotel-indie-hip kind of artist. Well reviewed, and well loved among a certain crowd. And all was fine and well when he took out a bottle of Jameson from his prop-suitcase, poured a drink, while lingering on his "that's right, I'm drankin" wink-wink sort of smile, Jameson bottle prominently held, long enough for the crowd to enthusiastically endorse drinking while at work. My friend leaned over to me and whispered "He's endorsed by Jameson" which I found funny and started laughing. Ha! So funny. lol. laughing/crying emoji. 

Cut to only crying emoji. Clearly I thought my friend was being witty. "No, he's actually endorsed by Jameson". 

Unamused face emoji.

This elicited a reaction which I analyzed the entire rest of the show. Because at that moment, I hated him and I thought he must be the biggest phony in show business. Which is unfair, of course. And I'm not generally one to call out anyone as a "sell out", particularly post-kids, I clearly understand earning money as a valid motivation for many a thing I may have scoffed at in my youth. (Younger youth, that is. I'm totally still young.)

Rolling Stones still touring? The Eagles reunion? Lenny Kravitz for the Gap? I will cynically assume that these are all career moves based on monetary compensation, and not their immeasurable creative rewards. None of these bother me. But maybe its the blatant product-placement in a glossy-I-swear-this-moment-is-genuine package which gets me. Maybe its the fact that all of these fans paid for tickets, which in my mind, should exempt them from being advertised to. Maybe its the fact that I had my suspicions about this mans musical authenticity to begin with, and the Jameson moment just had me questioning if his heart is in any of it. I mean, a "real" musician drinks on stage quietly, right? Because its about the music, not the fact that he's drinking on stage, and certainly not the fact that he's somehow a walking advertisement for said drink.

Still, I think I'm being unfair.  But maybe part of being an artist is just unfair. Life's not fair, right? For so many people in so many ways, and maybe by being an artist, the unfair expectations should be.... expected? Is it fair to expect artists to put their own self interests aside for the greater good of their art? Is it problematic that we have romanticized the "starving artist" idea? Has that devalued what artists do? Made it ok to steal their product and leave the path to success full of unappreciated, unpaid years through which very few people can (literally) survive? Because they should be doing it for the love of their art, not money, right?

......But shouldn't they? I can't reconcile it myself, because of course artists should do whatever they personally need to do and if one Jameson deal sends his kid to college, then who am I to judge? But at the same time, if we can't expect artists to sacrifice for the greater good, for keeping the sacredness of the arts intact, for being true to a vision that isn't driven by greed or money or success, then who will? Who among us will sacrifice their own self interests for a greater purpose? Mothers. That's who. All we've got are mothers and artists. 

Blue Hawk Dream

I had a dream last night that I was walking around my old neighborhood, just as I did as a kid, and a tremendous, gigantic, vibrant BLUE hawk with enormous talons landed on me, wrapped around me as a stole or scarf or something..... and I wasn't afraid of it, I was actually surprised. I had expected it to grab me with those giant talons and lift me up and take me away. So I was just stunned by the weight, the heaviness, the gravity. I could barely walk with him up there, and he wasn't budging.

I called for the neighbor to get his older brother (old friends of mine) and was fairly sure his parents would come out and give me a hand too. 

Do you ever wake up knowing exactly what your dream was trying to communicate to you? The imagery here is pretty straightforward, but I just woke up knowing that I'm stuck in a place where the things that should be lifting me up are weighing me down.

Gonna marinate on that for a minute.

Who Gave You Permission To Rearrange Me......

There are albums that suddenly become appealing, holding their wisdom patiently for the time in your life when you are ready to know it. Albums that you may have tried to "get into" before, maybe time and again, but never really clicked until you've grown, you've changed, you have been on a path that now allows you to GET it. 

I love those albums and the aha! moment of understanding.

Better still, the music I love most of all, has always held appeal, but the meaning grows and deepens and changes with you. The wisdom unfolds slowly, throughout your life, understanding it on one level at one time, and a new level at another point, and a deeper level still, as life goes on. This can happen musically, lyrically, or in the case of timeless albums, both. 

This album has been that for me since I first wore it on repeat more than a decade ago. It calls to the depths of my soul and offers me something new as new depths arise. It is a perfect album and has been speaking to me lately.

 

Listen, Do You Want To Know A Secret....

(Doo da doo) ........ 

So in addition to being a supermom, songwriter, and entrepreneur (more on that later), I am a social media manager. For musicians. I know. Are you done laughing? Cause my own social stuff is so pathetic! I try to treat myself as my own client but I'm telling you, after writing blog posts, tweets, and status updates for xx other people, I am so over the whole idea of it, I can barely stomach to do it myself. This is totally why I even have that job- because artists DON'T want to be bothered with this BS. 

I actually like writing in this sort of way- always have. Only, it used to be in a notebook no one will ever read. Its just so hard for me to take this all seriously I suppose. Between work, kids, and  all the other life stuff, if I get 5 free minutes, I hardly want to make some attempt at coherent self-expression. I take that back. If I'm going to take that time, its most likely going to be for a more creative self-expression. Which is good, obviously as it probably means more music......or more pinterest projects (questionably good).

Lets see what happens if I take my own professional advice and try to keep this on the up and up, shall we? 



Do Something!

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This sums me up in a nutshell. I think its why I love NYC so much, and even Los Angeles, in all of its self-obsessed glory.... I like being around people with ambition, and goals, who don't just talk about doing something or criticize people who are. I like when someone puts a toilet in an art gallery, and I like when someone is busking on the street. I like that Warhol took soup cans and Banksy goes around, and people sit in Starbucks writing screenplays, and people go to open mic nights. I don't think all art is good art, but I do think the act of creating art is equally important to the individual, and to society, whether it is 'good' or 'bad'. I don't "get" Warhol, or the art that has like one blue line on a white canvas, or thrash metal..... and I prefer art which is relatable, not entirely esoteric...that has a thought-out purpose or message. I'm not sure where someone like Miley Cyrus' brand of art begins and ends... how much of her 'antics' are part of the performance..... but I like all of this. 

I have been thinking for years about what, if anything, I could write for "This I Believe".... if I have one conviction strong enough to be summed up in a succinct statement. It was a couple months ago, thinking about this very idea- how I love to be around people who are striving, working toward something, looking to accomplish a goal, that it hit me: I believe in ambition.  

 

Ramblings

So much going on. 

Reception of the new album has been warm and encouraging. Funny enough, Give Up The Ghost keeps getting more and more traction, specifically, "Losing You". I received a note the other day from someone telling me how it is helping her through a difficult time and how appreciative she is of the song. Is that amazing, or what?! Knowing that my music can do for someone what music has always done for me is just extremely satisfying. Especially something like that song which is from an album so personal, so honest, and so difficult yet cathartic for me to face..... that note was just a really great highlight to my week.

I'm tired, but tired of feeling tired. Tired of saying "I'm tired". Tired of looking so tired, and tired of  exhaustion being part of my story. Tired, be damned! At least, that's how I feel in the daylight. By 9pm, I'm reminded what tired really is and it is so hard for me to focus any longer or get any more accomplished. This used to be my prime time of creativity and productivity. My nighttimes have gone the way of the dodo. 

It has been a very rare and fleeting moment in which I felt sentimental about New Jersey, and what I might miss about being here. If there was ever a way to obliterate those thoughts completely, this winter has done it. I like the option of going to NYC and I like being near my in-laws. Aside from that there is not one thing I can foresee missing about this place. Its a perfectly fine place, but it is so very not for me. (That is the absolute politest way I can think of to say that). 

Weird things and big things have been happening all around me. Wanting desperately to navigate this life from a steady, sturdy place. I'm doing alright, but the anxiety? Well........ 

New Video - 10,000 Hours

Do you know the "10,000 hour rule"? Essentially, it states that to master anything, it will take 10,000 hours of doing that thing. Sound like a lot? To me too. I am not singularly focused enough to have that sort of drive.... I prefer at least 3 projects going on at any given time so that I can diversify my time and energy...... and I just don't have it in me to sacrifice things like time with my family in order to achieve one kind of success at any one thing. That is what this song is about...... It also makes me think of the beautiful Grateful Dead song, "Standing On The Moon"

Big thanks to the Hunterdon Art Museum and Noah Klersfeld for bringing the cool factor into this video. Just imagine it without the projection. 

Surprise! Surprise!

My first new music video in 7 years is up on my new YouTube page

But lets back it up for a minute. It's a sort-of perfunctory lyric video for a song from "Give Up The Ghost"..... which is 5 years old already. 

So, what gives?

The CRAZIEST thing happened to me the other day. I received a note from someone who had purchased a download of this song, saying something to the effect of "you should get your info on the Dance Moms page- I had a really hard time finding this!" and I was confused, as I have never heard of Dance moms and had no idea what she's talking about.......

God bless the Google! Within a few minutes, I was watching MY SONG as it was broadcast on NATIONAL TV....... 

Yes, folks. You just saw a group of teenagers perform a lovely dance to an ALT song on the Lifetime network show, "Dance Moms". 

I was so fantastically surprised by this. I mean, I'm still laughing about it. I love when life brings wonderfully unexpected things. I figure I better capitalize on it by getting a video of my own up. 

Color By Numbers

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I am super stoked to have my third album completed and ready for the world. It is my best effort yet and that has a lot to do with the approach. My first album, Sparkle Plenty, was a singer-songwriter showcase in a big way. All over the map, labored over very intensely over the course of 5 years- every song exhaustively, preciously thought through. It is eager in the most endearing sense, but I can see how it might come off as thick to anyone not involved in the process of creating it.

2009's Give Up The Ghost was an entirely different project- a 5 song EP recorded in 5 days almost exclusively with my brother, my father, and I. It had a theme- death- and recording it was a cathartic way for my to work through some of my anxieties. I'm not sure how all of that translates to a casual listener, but the album was very satisfying to me. 

I love both of these albums, and I think they keep getting better. Which leads us to now. Color By Numbers is our most creative endeavor so far and I think that has everything to do with my wanting to please myself first and foremost. My brother and I were the driving forces behind this album, with him taking the reigns on much of the production. A few of the songs were brought to the table fully formed- with a lot of musical ideas from me which ended up in the final recordings. This is incredibly satisfying for me, as the prior albums were mostly very basic demos brought to life by other musician's talent in knowing what the songs called for. To have my own musical riffs and ideas was incredibly fun- both to create and record. My brother's sensibilities made a huge difference in bridging the gap between the idea itself and what the song called for - choosing the right instrument for the part, for example, or using synth pads (which would never have occurred to me), and editing the things that did not elevate the songs purpose. In the cases where the songs were still sketches at the start of a session, my brother was a major shaper in how to bring them to life. It was freeing and fun to trust him with my songs- to not lose sleep over taking out that guitar lick, or whether the second verse needs another harmony. His taste is right on and he brought a lot to the table from his diverse musical lexicon. Although we share many musical influences, we also have personally delved in different directions. The end result was a collaboration with many references melding into our vision. 

Before we began recording, my brother and I had lengthly conversations about what kind of experience we wanted. We agreed that ultimately, we wanted to have fun. We wanted it to be joyful, not arduous. If we were laughing about an idea, then it was one worth pursuing. If we were hitting the mark with what we like, what sounded good to us, then no further analyzing was needed. No laboring over every last note. No auto-tuning it to perfection. Not wondering "does this sound good?" but instead asking ourselves "well, do we like it?".

The result is 8 songs. Different songs. Short songs. Each one its own contained and fulfilled vision. We did laugh a lot. Teaming up with my brother was incredibly fun and it was an honor to share the experience with him, my dad, and the other musicians who lent their talents. 

I hope you can hear how much I love this. 

GET THE ALBUM NOW!

Out there having fun in the warm California Sun

I managed to avoid the worst of the polar vortex by hiding out in Los Angeles. It was wonderful. Like super amazingly wonderful. I don't like the winter, and in fact, I'm liking less and less about New Jersey. To each his own, you know? NJ is just not for me. 

While it was negative a million here, I was doing this:

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and this.....

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AND

............

Finishing the album!!! My third record is now in mastering! 

 

I am totally psyched about that, totally grateful to have spent so much time soaking up sunshine in the dead of winter, and totally ready to make some changes in 2014.

Pictoral

Its time again to communicate through pictures. Like cavemen and Egyptians before me, I shall leave pictures on this proverbial wall.  They also were probably too tired for a fully fleshed out blog post. 

Here is whats been consuming me lately:

1. Self explanatory. Everyone is ok. Terrifying but .... well, everyone is ok. At the end of the day that's all that matters. 

Everyone, including the guy at the tow yard, who sees a lot of this kind of thing, said "Thank God you were in a Volvo"

Everyone, including the guy at the tow yard, who sees a lot of this kind of thing, said "Thank God you were in a Volvo"

 

2. The most wonderful time of the year..... because cookies.

Carrying on my mother-in-law's tradition of Traditional German Christmas cookies

Carrying on my mother-in-law's tradition of Traditional German Christmas cookies

3. Well, this isn't just lately, this is always.

I find your lack of fully fleshed out blog posts disturbing

I find your lack of fully fleshed out blog posts disturbing

4. This is still a musician's site, right? blah blah blah mommy track blah blah blah....

Trying my hand at the next music video. No guarantees its gonna be pretty, folks.

Trying my hand at the next music video. No guarantees its gonna be pretty, folks.

On Childless Friends....

It was not a dream of mine to become a mother. Not one of those little-girl fantasies that was finally fulfilled by a double-pink stripe. I had a lot of mixed feelings about being pregnant, mostly because everyone expects you to be so damn thrilled about the whole thing, when its just simply more complicated than that.

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So it is not without surprise that I have slowly morphed into that friend- the one disguising a true desire to see her friends procreate with half-hearted humor. The one laughingly commenting “We aren’t getting any younger!” while secretly yearning for the next phone call to be the announcement. Sounds crazy? It kind of is….. but it also isn’t.

I was thinking about this and why I would love so dearly for my closest friends to become parents- now, this isn’t some goal of mine, per se, not a topic constantly on my mind, or the makings of some twisted-diabolical-after-school-special…. But, prompted by some very vivid dreams lately, I have been giving it a lot of thought- why so many people who have kids turn into that person- like the stand-in for your mom, encouraging you and chiding you, and lovingly egging you on…… what are you waiting for anyway? Can’t you tell by my sallow skin and half-witted memory that BABIES ARE THE BEST?! I know we can never go out with you anymore, don’t have the funds, let alone the time, or (ha!! HA!!!) the energy, to ‘hang’ like we did…. Or have a phone conversation like we used to…. Or respond to that email you sent me 2 months ago….. but my heart has been bursting- bursting, I tell you!- with joy and I am in a constant state of bliss and amazement, thereby rendering all outside communication utterly meaningless and secondary to anything child-rearing-related.

Thing is, I’m only half-joking……

I don’t want to sound fanatical here, but every new parent has their “Oh Shit” moment, wherein you realize what is actually being asked of you. No matter how prepared, or enthusiastic you thought you were, it dawns on you that nothing could have prepared you for the relentlessness of someone’s well-being, never mind complete and total survival, hinging on you to have your shit together all. The. Time. All the time! ALL THE TIME!!

It’s a game changer. And while the “misery-loves-company” and “everyone wants recognition” theories may play in to the psychology of wanting your friends to join you on your parenthood adventure, I think it comes down to simply wanting to relate. I’m willing to bet that this post could be written by someone without kids and have a completely different story with the same bottom line – we hardly relate.

I could start nitpicking how and why it is hard to relate to my child-less friends, but its not about that, I don’t want to contribute any deeper to the “Us and Them” mentality, and I guess I should note that I have no desire to talk my friends who absolutely don’t want kids into having them….. but the ones who do want them, who are waiting around, taking their sweet time, sleeping through the night and going out on Fridays, I say to you- join me. We will have so much in common again, so much to laugh about and bitch about and dwell upon. We will once again be able to stay up, late into the night, talking about what it all means…… that is, of course, if we can find the time. 

 

 

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Marinating

I am scouring the web for good social media content (it's my day job, y'all... or, more accurately my midnight job)...  and came across this classic. For anyone who doesnt know, John and Yoko, in their campaign for peace, took out ads and billboards all over with this message: 

Think about it

Think about it

You know how sometimes things get so cliche or so familiar that you fail to appreciate their depth? Like I might see Elvis' face 300 times before that 301st where I am taken aback by how freakin' gorgeous he is . Or how we go through the motions of life but have those moments of bliss where we are actually experiencing how beautiful it all is, or how lucky we are.... I guess it would be too much to be in a constant frenzy about how handsome my husband is (yes, he gets Elvis-status to me), or in an endless state of turmoil over how deep my feelings about being alive are..... and we cannot spend every moment contemplating the truths of the universe and the wisdom and meaning of the great thinkers. So it is how we function, to gloss over the big stuff, kind of making those moments where we consider them carefully that much more meaningful. 

 

Back to John and Yoko: "War is Over, if you want it"  

 

All I can say is- think about that. Think about it for a minute. Slow down and forget the other things rattling around and think about it for just a moment or two and what that means- and don't let your mind interject about repubs or liberals or weapons of mass destruction or 9/11 or national security. Think about it, not as two wealthy celebrities spouting intellectual idealism.... pretend Buddha said it, or Christ, or Rush Limbaugh, or whoever the fuck you give weight to. Lets think about it, not as a slogan, or a campaign, but as a calling, as a revelation, as an exposure of our personal responsibility, our capabilities and our true desires.

Literal war, figurative war, personal war, war in the home, in our countries, in our heads.....  

........ 

........ 

 

Well, what do you really want? 

20/20

 

Let me preface this by saying that I love Justin Timberlake’s new album. OK, its not that new, and I'm late to the party, but I'm on mom-time which sort of resigns me to being slightly unhip forever. Fair enough.

Why do I love this picture so much? When did I become the biggest JT fangirl??!  

Why do I love this picture so much? When did I become the biggest JT fangirl??!  

I keep thinking I’m going to pick something else to listen to, and my fingers sort of just find 20/20 and I am listening to it multiple times a day. Is this sounding confessional? It sort of is. I was never a Timberlake fan. In fact, by the time 98 degrees came around I was way over current pop music (too cool, obv) and into my classic rock phase. Anyhow, I am appreciating the 90s in a whole new way and this is in no way a 90’s sounding record, I just finally get why people have liked him all along.

The album is great because its whole- well written, well produced, sonically interesting, conceptual- he sounds polished, sincere, and intriguing. But my favorite part is that the more I listen, the more I like it. Haven't heard an album I felt that way about since The Belle Brigade, Aimee Mann, and possibly Outkast or Erykah Badu before that. It is the kind of album that rewards multiple listens with layers continuing to reveal themselves. It is so rewarding and gratifying to listen to. My favorite song changes and my favorite parts of songs evolve. That’s the most we can hope for, as consumers; An artist that is staying creative and keeping his chops up, but also so very clearly cares about the listener's experience. I mean, music isn’t made in that sort of way like “How can we best reward our loyal fans in an aural way?” (ew?) ….. but he (and Timbaland, of course) ‘gets it’, what makes a great song or album. I think only passionate music lovers can make music like this and it shows and is notable for anyone who has been in the business as long as they have. So often artists can still write great songs and can still make good albums, but lose that sort of passion about doing it- or even more importantly, what music is- what it means- its purpose- and why people love it in the first place- it gets lost. Not even the obvious “going-through-the-motions” artists, but something more subtle, where they lose that spark- where you know they listen to silence in their free time as much as possible because their ears are so very tired. Where you can tell they analyze chord changes and middle eights rather than bopping their heads. When you can tell they have a mental checklist of music they “need to check out”, not because they might love it, but because they are supposed to. 

Wow, I went off on a tangent there. I was intending to write something totally different – an analysis on what bothers me about the song “Mirrors”. But I wanted the whole I-love-this-album preface so that you didn’t get the wrong idea…. Because I love this album. Can you tell? 

I guess my "Mirrors" post will have to wait.  

 

******UPDATE*****  my brother & sister-in-common-law got me tickets to go see JT for my birthday. SO. EXCITED. Review dripping with adoring fan-girl-ness to come, I'm sure.

what is happening to me??!

what is happening to me??!

Tired!

Feeling depleted- the kind of tired where you begin thinking about something then realize you've been spacing off for some time and it takes effort - like, actual forced effort- to remember what you were trying to think about.

Maybe not the best mind frame to write a blog post in. However, I do know that consistency is key, for both you and I, and if I'm not up for overanalyzing some aspect of some thing, unable to get into the groove where thoughts and words flow freely... then I'm presenting just one more side of myself to you here.... which is the point, right? (Besides the great joy in telling people to "Check out my blog".... blog. blog. blog. blog...... who made up this word?! what does it all mean?? )

So I will give you a small glimpse, with visual aid, into what has dominated this past week for me:  

1. Pie

this was almost a pie-centric post. can't wrap my head around the whole forcing-memories-and-traditions-for-your-kids/craving-something-you've-never-had/pie-as-status-symbol thing right now though. maybe another time. maybe not.  

this was almost a pie-centric post. can't wrap my head around the whole forcing-memories-and-traditions-for-your-kids/craving-something-you've-never-had/pie-as-status-symbol thing right now though. maybe another time. maybe not.

 

 2. Laundry 

truth.

truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Menu Variety

I am SO TIRED of the same 5 things I always make, yet I'm like always surprised when 5pm comes around and I have to make dinner. Again! What?! Unprepared! Spaghetti it is!      This Mealboard App is the first app that is actually making my tasks more convenient. I swear. Its like opening my eyes to a whole world of preplanning. Whaaat?!

I am SO TIRED of the same 5 things I always make, yet I'm like always surprised when 5pm comes around and I have to make dinner. Again! What?! Unprepared! Spaghetti it is!     

This Mealboard App is the first app that is actually making my tasks more convenient. I swear. Its like opening my eyes to a whole world of preplanning. Whaaat?!

4. Sleep (lack thereof) 

 I know all of America is trying to one up eachother on how tired we all are, how little we sleep, how we burn the candle at both ends.... like its some measure of our success or our determination, or how interesting and popular and busy we are. But I'm so over any of that. Do you know what fascinates me? Someone who gets a full nights sleep. Someone who doesnt have circles under their eyes. Someone who doesnt require 3 cups of coffee to get through the day.... I'm so, so, so tired. Kids aren't sleeping well = NOBODY sleeps well. fact. moving on.....

Well, my life sure sounds boring from all that. Who cares, I'm not bored (except with spaghetti). Whats the opposite of bored? Immersed? I'm that. Life-Immersion therapy. 

 

Our First Video

We began filming our first video for the new album. Ideally, I want to have a video for every song (did you know YouTube is the FIRST place people go to look up a song these days?). At our local art museum, we ran across a great exhibit by Noah Klersfeld which was quite visually inspiring. I wont give away too much, but here is a sneak peek photo!  

 

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Lesson of the day? Don't be dismissive of small, local museums. They have art just as interesting and thought provoking as the big guys. 

This Post is More Than 140 Characters

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I am on Twitter a lot. It is part of my 'day job' and I've been on twitter a lot for the past 4 years on behalf of my clients. I have only recently, however, begun to use it for myself, as my OWN social media manager. 

And for the first time, I really get it. 

I can see why teenagers love it. I can see why celebrities, businesses, and brands love it. I can see why the average person would use their feed as a curated go-to for news and the latest on whatever interests them. But I was still wondering why the average person feels a desire to tweet themselves.... I guess I was thinking about it on a personal level, although, for me, somewhere down the line it uncomfortably blurs from personal to "brand" (if I'm taking this whole thing seriously that is.... and sometimes I am), but presently I have 35 followers. None of whom respond... or @reply or RT or or or.... and I don't care, because 1. really, who cares and 2. that's not the point. But why isn't it the point, if it's all supposed to be so social? 

Anyway the point of all THIS is that I basically analogized it to any other creative endeavor. Not in its effort or inspiration or anything like that, but in our basic human desire to express ourselves. To be heard and understood. In a forum that embraces being as mundane, silly, anxious, or banal as we want to be. That's why it works. 

I'm not saying I love it, but I do like it, and I do finally get it.  

 

Change Your Website, Change Your Life!

I am in the process of re-designing my website, in anticipation of the new album. Feels good to get a "makeover" every few years, being attentive to this aspect of me, or my 'career' or whatever. Being able to re-examine and re-define in a really tangible way, with concrete results. None of that "I'm trying to (be more organized, save more money, get more rest, fill-in-the-goal)" bullshit. A nice clean change of images, text, links and voila! A new you. A new opportunity. Maybe thats what art is really about for the artists anyway. New expressions, reformations, bringing something into the world that wasnt there before....