Words Suck

Every Thursday morning, I wake up and think about what I’m going to write about for this blog. I’ll come up with an outline or an idea, get all worked up and motivated to post it early (to get the most eyes on it) but inevitably, three sentences in, I can’t stand my own words. Cut to almost two hours before midnight and I’m scrambling to get something down that’s somewhat compelling. Maybe that’s what I’ll talk about this week. I love writing, but this week I’ll tell you why I hate it, why I think I’m not good at it and why words suck.

This shit’s hard. I mean, it’s easy to write…like just write down your thoughts, duh, but when I was growing up, school made writing so formulaic that it seemed like a chore. It made me hate it. I get that you need the basics. You should know how to spell, form sentences, and the difference between a colon and a semicolon (for some reason), but eventually writing and writing assessments got way too restrictive. The template was simple. You have a main point (thesis), three to four supporting paragraphs and then you wrap it all up at the end in a bow with a summary of your supporting paragraphs and how they related to your main point. There was no room for experimentation and certainly no room for humor. Maybe it’s just the teachers I had or the school system I was brought up in but it wasn’t until college that I actually got to experiment with writing.

I think I hate my writing now because I don’t think it adequately portrays me. I haven’t worked that muscle in my brain to be good enough to tell you all exactly what i’m thinking and I don’t yet have the ability to clearly spell out my perspective. I think I’m still too worried about the fact that people are reading this. I’ve gotta get over that.

This might be the weed typing but I also don’t think I think in words. **Definitely the weed typing**. But for real, I always say that I think language gets in the way and I really believe it. Words are great and all but that’s all they are. Words are inadequate. Dr. Albert Mehrabian (author of Silent Messages) agrees and found that only 7% of any message is conveyed through words. Yeah, writing might just suck. Who even reads books any more? Audiobooks don’t count and most fiction books are just as bad as sitcoms with laugh tracks, so they don’t count either. Writing is a dead medium and we all know it. If it’s not on Youtube, fuck off.

I’m not wrapping this up in a bow. You got what you paid for.

An Ode to Ari Shaffir

      We’re in the middle of a standup comedy boom. It’s never been bigger. There’s no one reason, as the soar in popularity of podcasts, roast battles and big budget Netflix specials have all contributed to this glut of laughs and comedic perspectives. However, there is one unsung hero who’s played a pivotal role in the mainstream success of comedy by bricklaying the foundation of the underground. That man’s name is, Ari Shaffir.

*I’m not an expert nor a historian but I am a comedy nerd so some of the names and references I’m about to drop may be a little obscure.*

For decades, there was a palpable beef between West Coast (mostly Los Angeles) and East Coast (mostly New York and Boston) comedians. New York and Boston comedians thought L.A. comics were vapid, shallow and showboaty while it seemed as if L.A. comics perceived their coastal counterparts to be unnecessarily gritty, brash and everything blue collar that they were trying to get away from. Ari Shaffir played and is still playing a major role in squashing this beef by bridging the two comedy meccas together via podcasts, a collaborative storytelling tv show and most importantly, live comedy shows.

Ari Shaffir, a.k.a. “The Amazing Racist”,  developed his chops at the world famous Comedy Store in Los Angeles in the early 2000’s. He had some moderate success around town, featuring for big comics like Carlos Mencia (big comic at the time), Tom Segura and Joe Rogan. In 2013, Ari started to gain real mainstream traction with the success of his storytelling web-series, “This Is Not Happening” presented by Comedy Central on Youtube which was later picked up by the network as a full fledged tv show in 2015. He also dropped his second special, “Paid Regular“, the same year and week on the network. Around that time, Ari started traveling back and forth between the two coasts before officially becoming a New York City resident in 2015. This catalyzed a new relationship between New York and L.A. comedians that has proved to be fruitful for both sides.

Most of you know who Joe Rogan is. He’s essentially an L.A. comedian who first gained mainstream fame for hosting “Fear Factor”, then as a headlining comedian but most of you know him now as one of the biggest podcasters hosting one of the biggest podcasts out there, “The Joe Rogan Experience”. Well, Ari and Joe are best friends. When Ari moved to New York, he made more friends..very funny comedian friends. With Ari’s endorsement he got Joe to put those friend’s on Joe’s podcast and boom, careers were made, saved and resurrected. People like Mark Normand, Joe List, Dan Soder, Big Jay Oakerson, Luis J Gomez, and Dave Smith were all introduced to Joe through Ari. These comics are all killing the underground scene, poised to be household names when comedy inevitably shifts back to the dark ages.

Ari didn’t forget about his L.A. comedian friends. He made sure they got in with his new community in New York as well. Old friends like Tony Hinchcliffe, Jayson Thibault, Sam Tripoli, and Bert Kreischer are almost all now touring the country (and some the world) as a result of their success on New York City podcasts and shows. This would have never happened without Ari’s backing. These comedians gained an entire new fanbase and opened up an entirely new market (the east coast) just by being associated with Ari. I’m simplifying their success way too much but even they would agree that Ari had a lot to do with bringing the two comedy communities together for the betterment of everyone.

I could go on and on about Ari but I feel like I’ve given you all enough of a reason to at least check out a few of his projects to get to know a little bit about why he’s such an important person in comedy. He’s not a household name because he doesn’t want to be but he’s a big reason why comedy is so good today. He’s free, principled and willing to do whatever it takes t get a laugh in the moment. Check out his podcast, Skeptic Tank and go see him live any chance you get.

You’re Better (Sober)

Please don’t get defensive. I know you’re an adult and you get things done but you’re WAY better sober. If you don’t think so, you’re lying to yourself. I don’t care what your chemical of choice is- whether it’s booze, weed, pills, powder, etc., you could be doing a lot more in life if you cut back or cut it out altogether. I go back and forth all the time as to whether or not I should be stone cold sober. I don’t think I have an addiction problem but I do think sometimes I let my vices get in the way of things.

“We all need something”. I hear that quote all the time when people try to rationalize their vices. It’s weak thinking. I think vices and virtues are two sides of the same coin. The more time and energy you spend flipped to the vice side, the less virtue. Even the most balanced people on earth can admit their vices create stagnation and even regression. So why do we continue to do things that don’t help us?

My main vice is pot. I’ve been smoking since I was 15 (I’m 27 now) and I’m not proud of it. I’m actually pretty embarrassed. I wish I would have waited for my brain to develop more before trying it. I feel like I should have grown out of wanting to be high and not present all the time at this point in my life. I know it holds me back. I took what should have been a fun high school phase way too far. Any uber-successful person I know doesn’t smoke pot and the people I do know who smoke way too much pot…drive for Uber.

I’m not a huge drinker but that’s because the after effects are rarely worth it. Sure, it helps you loosen up around people but let’s face it, you’re annoying as fuck when you’re drunk. You’re loud, dumb and not worried about how you come off or effect others. You wake up in the morning feeling like shit, concerned about actions from the night before for what? A couple hours of mindless distraction? We spend our money on overpriced booze, post way too many stories on Instagram and eat like shit to sop up the alcohol. What the fuck are we doing?!

I’m not here to preach or to make you feel bad but I know at least one of you out there needed to read this. You’re doing alright in life but you’re looking for that edge to put your over the top and in the place you really want to be. Do me a favor, quit your vice for  just a little bit. Start off with a week, then a month and then more and tell me your life hasn’t changed for the better. If you prove me wrong, I’ll take this post down and we’ll go get a beer together. Until then, we’ll see how my hypothesis sits…I think you’re better sober.

Big Me vs. Little Me

        My brain works better when I’m looking slightly forward. There’s a lot of “live in the moment” blather but the only reason a lot of these people choose to live “in the now” is because they made decisions in the past that afforded them the time and resources to do so. Those past actions were performed based on hope or a certain desired outcome…in the future.

I usually try to shy away from absolutes but ever since I’ve been back home, I feel like I’ve only noticed two types of people. There are the people working on themselves, looking towards the future and people still stuck on decisions and actions from the past. Maybe it’s just the people I’ve surrounded myself with but it’s obvious which tactic is working out for whom.

The big worry is that by looking too far in the future, we grow anxious and forget to appreciate and live in the moment. I think that logic should only apply in the moment.

I’ve heard a lot of talk about “big me” and “little me” lately. The gist is that there is a bigger part of yourself (usually rooted in some form of self-preservation) that looks at the overall picture and steers your lifeboat in accordance to your desired destination. “Big me” is creative yet goal oriented and wants to build. The smaller part of yourself, your “little me” looks within and is more virtuous in it’s approach to life. You need both, but not equally all the time. Right now I need my “big me” to steer full steam ahead.

Maybe for you, it’s “little me” season. You’ve pushed and pushed and right now is the time for introspection and confrontation of moral dilemmas that might be holding you back from performing when “big me” needs to put work in. It may help you honestly confront behaviors and balance out your perspective which then allow room for more relationships with not only other people but yourself. Your relationship with yourself permeates in to all others. My only advice would not to over indulge on the “little me” or you risk getting stuck in the past.

I don’t really like to do that thing where you summarize everything you just said and make it all cute like a bow on top at the end. All I’m saying is that for me, right now, it’s a good idea to tap in to my “big me” and look forward a little. That’s it.

 

Sources: Intro to The Road To Character by David Brooks

 

Find Your Special

So I had this whole thing written out detailing how I met my father when I was 19 but I realized that most of it was for me. I’m 27 years old now and the whole experience still fucks with me but I’ll give you guys the Cliffs Notes version of what I learned from that experience so that maybe you can relate and get to know me a little better without rolling your eyes at the minutiae. I go a long way to get to my eventual point, which is basically that you have to find your “special”.

Like I said, I met my father when I was 19 years old and at the time I felt like I had to. My freshman/sophomore year of college was a wild, mixed period of both self-destruction and self-discovery. I was failing out of school, experimenting with drugs and alienating from people all in the name of “finding myself”, maaan. I felt at this point in my life, it was only right to get to know the other half of myself. After some Facebook sleuthing and a few direct messages to confirm key information, I found my father and he was willing to meet up where he lived in Ormond Beach, Florida.

 Now it’s highly unfair to put expectations on someone, it’s even more ridiculous to put expectations on a moment, but holy shit was it surreal. I thought I was just meeting my father but what I didn’t know and realize was that I had an entire other family. I had cousins and uncles who looked exactly like me, half-sisters, aunts, grandmas, dead grandpas, and I met them all (minus the dead g-pas of course). It was overwhelming, to say the least. My father didn’t have much to say. It felt like he was hiding behind his family and acting like the moment was so much that he couldn’t say anything. It just felt like he couldn’t wait for it to be over. I don’t know what he could have said though, really.

“I’m sorry I never fought to be a part of your life” might have been too on the button. 

I left bummed out. I had built this moment up from the first time I realized I didn’t know who my real father was (around 7 or 8 years old). I built this guy up in my head because I wanted to be that guy one day. I remember day dreaming as a kid that my father was this charismatic, rugged dude who couldn’t stay in one place for very long. Instead, I met a guy who lived in a house he rented from his brother near his hometown with three daughters and a baby mama whom he’s clearly not passionate about. He clearly wasn’t “living the dream”. It was depressing. I thought, “Will this be me?” It wasn’t a particularly bad life but it’s certainly not the pedestal I want to end up on. He seemed sad and unfulfilled. It’s not my intention to hurt anyone’s feelings but up until that point I had a lot of pride in who I was and who I thought I wasn’t going to turn in to. My mom was this strong, standup person, she certainly wouldn’t have procreated with a dud, would she? 

I think that’s why I’m pushing so hard against the status quo now. I want to pursue creative avenues not of the norm to avoid a life of silent desperation. I don’t think I’m “destined” to do great things but I would be lying if I said I don’t think I’m special enough to possibly do great things one day. I guess we all think we’re special but it’s the people who embrace it and believe it are the only ones who actually do anything with it. This meeting 8 years ago was a setback but I’m embracing my “special” more and more each day. 

I obviously have a lot more to flush out about this experience and things to confront concerning my daddy issues but it feels good to be honest on how I feel about someone who shouldn’t affect me one way or another anymore. I can let go of the resentment and anger. I can appreciate that this person gave me the gift of life by not squandering it with mediocrity and self loathing. I don’t have to repeat the cycle of misery and guilt of abandonment, and can instead be cognizant of my “special” and use that as fuel realize my full potential.

Necessary?

Considering you’re reading this on one of your many devices, doing shit you don’t care about is unnecessary. I don’t mean the every day things e.g., brushing your teeth, doing the dishes, taking your baby for a walk- of course all of those are necessary activities. I think big life things, like what you do to make money, who you spend your time with and just overall how you spend your time is way more in your control than you think. Your boring/unfulfilling job, that partner that adds tension and anxiety, and the agony of you not chasing your passion day after day can go away quicker than a rat snap. That shit is unnecessary.

Sure, most of us need jobs to survive but not at the mental expense that most of us don’t even realize. I’ve always heard that a salary never made anyone rich and with almost 13 years of vastly different job experience, it’s starting to ring alarmingly true. My goal isn’t to be rich but instead to one day have personal satisfaction and piece of mind in knowing  that I am self-sustainable without burden on other people. This goal will never happen as long as I to pursue mid-level management at some company that doesn’t really care about me or what my goals are outside of said company. People think they have assurance and security at big, established firms but at the end of the day, they’re putting their futures in the hands of people who only see them as a box in a hierarchy connected by segmented lines. I think this reality for them deep down in their subconscious and comes out through PTA beefs, stamp collections and too many happy hours. That shit is sad and unnecessary.

People need people, that’s true. It’s also true that people can be your biggest downfall. We all have an archetype built in for people we meet in our life, even if we don’t realize it. We trust the doughy, well kept, fair-skinned mom type because of movies and maternal figures in our lives and are attracted to hour glass figured, high heeled women because of the same type of thing (movies and media). That kind of stuff creeps in with your partners as well. Physical attraction is a motherfucker because it can trick our brains in to thinking a person is good for us even though all signs point to the contrary. The bottom line is, if your partner doesn’t make you feel good about yourself or doesn’t make you a better person, ya dip. That shit is unnecessary.

Most (if not all) of what I’m saying has been said and harped on before but I know there’s at least one of you that needed to read these words today. I don’t think my blog post is going to change your life but it could be one more grain of sand tilting the scale towards making a decision to change…and I’ll take that. Just remember that the things you choose to do everyday and the people you choose to be around should lift you up and make you better. If not, ya dip. That shit is unnecessary.