Friday, April 29, 2011

The Weight of Our Choices

Sophisticated readers of this blog know that all our choices have “weight”. They all have this certain relative weight, every little fucking choice we make... There is no time table or visibility requirements for this weight but it surely is attached. Just know that every thing we choose will steer us in some direction, somehow. Many of us have thought back at times and reflected on certain strings of choices that led us to where we are now. Realizing that we’re all trying to make the "right" choices to help us live, breathe and chase happiness for our lives.

“A man is happy so long as he choose to be happy.”
-Alexander Solzhenitsyn


There you go. A nice, slightly non-“PC” quote about choice and the human desire of wanting to be happy. So, inevitably things in life will not line up at times during our pursuit of happiness and depression may rear its ugly head. Now it's time to choose! Some of us may choose to stay mentally sharp and not run from it. Others will just hate/resist it and it could stop them in their very tracks. Still others may not be tough enough and we may choose to take the prescription drug Paxil. Paxil is a drug that can help you feel non-depressed and you, simply wanting to feel happy, may choose to pop one of these bad-boys...but you may actually be choosing:

“Anxiety; blurred vision; constipation; decreased sexual desire or ability; diarrhea; dizziness; drowsiness; dry mouth; gas; increased sweating; increased urination; loss of appetite; nausea; nervousness; numbness or tingling of the skin; stomach upset; trouble concentrating; trouble sleeping; weakness; yawning.”

Those are the COMMON side effects.

Here are the other wonderful possibilities:

“Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); bizarre behavior; black or bloody stools; chest pain; confusion; decreased concentration; decreased coordination; exaggerated reflexes; fainting; fast or irregular heartbeat; fever, chills, or sore throat; hallucinations; memory loss; new or worsening agitation, panic attacks, aggressiveness, impulsiveness, irritability, hostility, exaggerated feeling of well-being, restlessness, or inability to sit still; persistent or severe ringing in the ears; persistent, painful erection; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin; seizures; severe or persistent anxiety or trouble sleeping; severe or persistent headache or dizziness; significant weight loss; stomach pain; suicidal thoughts or attempts; tremor; unusual bruising or bleeding; unusual or severe mental or mood changes; unusual weakness; vision changes; worsening of depression.”

Wow.

A fun game you can play with friends involves choosing three side effects and seeing who can come up with the most fucked up combination! Endless fun for all involved. Oh yes, Paxil also may cause thoughts of suicide when you first take it...there's some visible weight to a choice right there.

Yay!

Perhaps you're just tired and want a good nights sleep for once? Being well rested helps in being happy. Well, you can either choose to live a healthy lifestyle with diet, exercise and some regularity to your daily routine which can help you sleep better, or maybe you choose to take the precsription drug Lunesta? Choose Lunesta and you may also have chosen:

"Anxiety; decrease in sexual desire; difficulty with coordination; dizziness; drowsiness; dry mouth; headache; indigestion; lightheadedness; nausea; nervousness; unpleasant taste; vomiting;severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue; unusual hoarseness); aggressive behavior; breast growth; chest pain; confusion; depression; hallucinations; memory problems (such as amnesia); mental or mood changes; painful menstrual periods; seizures; severe mood swings; suicidal thoughts; swelling of hands or feet; symptoms of infection (eg, fever, sore throat, sinus or chest congestion); unusual or disturbing thoughts."

...and the best part?
"This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur."

Damn.

Indeed you get your good nights sleep, but maybe you transform into a confused, vomiting, walking-trainwreck with no interest in sex? Albeit, A well rested trainwreck.

People, we could just go on and on and on here but since you already resent the fact that you read this far, we should just stop. Just remember to follow your heart when making choices and remember that your choices will have some manner of relative weight to them so don't take them lightly!

Enjoy your weekend.

Bye!

~ZFJ

*Thanks to Drugs.com for the side effect info.*

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Look up to the sky...

What a beautiful evening…sitting here on the back porch, crisp, refreshing breeze pushing those wind chimes around. I love that sound. Sure enough I see the buds on the trees as spring makes a comeback. I’m just right here on this chair, on this porch, in this house, on this street, in this town, on this planet…so, I venture to the opening of the porch and step towards the edge. Then I boldly move to the top step…then to the next step…the next and soon I find myself standing in the middle of the lawn. I look up to the sky. This night the sky seemed unsure of what it wanted to do with us all…clouds were moving and were too busy to cover up the stars. Aaaah, there’s that feeling of wonderful insignificance! As if all the problems I could have are just so much smaller than this sky and its stars. I need to look up there more often…like I used to.

So, the other night as I watched a video of a band performing a song that I wrote bass, guitars, lyrics and the basic drum beat for -around 9 years ago, I realized once again the true nature of things. Most people just don’t care that much. Or, they’re just not really that concerned with the “eternal truth of things”. Who cares about what may be “real” or what may be “fake”?? Who cares about doing the “right” thing?? Who in your life would really stand by you at the expense of their own self?? Fuck it. If something can be used to “get you somewhere” then who gives a shit??

Nobody really cares what YOU need.

That’s not a negative statement either. We just want to get “ours” and we’ll do whatever we can think of to get it. I am working towards having this mindset but I’m finding that it is proving difficult for me to nurture it. I’m just not wired that way. I have this flaw that makes me believe in the other person and urges me to be “the difference” and/or the one who will stand by you. Well, that and a quarter will get me a cup of coffee. Whine-whine-whine-whine!!

At the good ole’ day job I had this person I really believed in and trusted teach me a real life lesson. Now, most other people didn’t feel the same about this person because everything didn’t “line up” perfectly as it often doesn’t. I stood by this guy despite what people thought about him because I trusted him and believed him and therefore, was able to get him a job. While working this job, he found another position that suited him better (which I wholeheartedly agreed with) and he made the plans to move on. I had to place someone new in his former position and he was set to train the new person. This guy meets my new employee and he proceeds to recruit the new employee to work at his new company for him. Wow. Anything else I can do for you?? I believe in you, trust you, secure employment for you in a tough recession, stand by you and was always there to help when things got tough. To thank me, you go ahead and steal MY employee for your own needs on the first chance you get. Wow, not even a reach around?? This guy proverbially slapped me in the face reminding me yet again that, nobody really cares what YOU need.

I read this quote a while back and it makes sense to me:

“To get at the eternal truth of things, is in my mind the mission of the man the world would call a poet.”

I’m a Poet.

~ZFJ

Friday, April 22, 2011

E T H I C S and other relative terms

Happy Friday everyone!

So, I think I am one of the most misunderstood people I know, musically speaking -according to what I hear in random conversations on "the Streets" and from what friends divulge to me from time to time. For instance, I have bandmates who say things like, "Yeah, I heard that you have to control everything in the music..." only to say later, "I don't think you're controlling at all...". People's impressions are just that, impressions. If/when a person actually gets to know me it seems to result in "favorable" impressions for the most part, but this is not my point...I will now prelude the forthcoming rant with my actual thoughts and feelings about music, music writing and what I think about a bands "journey".

Also, I will use " " around many words, because I am in the mood.

I do have a "vision". You know? The "how" I want to feel combined with "who" I will become as I proceed on the musical road toward the vision. I will fight for this vision and I tend to stay committed to it, almost to a fault. I am only able to make the music I feel inside of me with people I like because, the journey you embark on together is the actual prize and this time spent together is just priceless. So, as a result, I end up "close" to people I write music with because you want to enjoy your time together while making/pushing music. My goal is always to promote true collaboration and it's not always easy. Some will be "on fire" more than others, some will just not "get it" and some have too much "in the way" mentally/spritually to give and take in a collaboration. Either way, we all contribute part of our actual soul in the music we create.

When I think highly of someone, am close to someone and/or they are a friend, family or good aquaintance, I will never do anything to slight them. Shit, I actually won't intentionally do anything to slight people I'm not close to. I just don't believe that getting my ends should ever result in fucking someone over, misleading them or slighting them. I keep ethics in mind and will not sacrifice my integrity just to gain something for myself. However, I don't find that this sentiment is common in most musical circles I've been exposed to. I feel that success in music on any level is to be able to make quality music on your terms, perform it on your terms and have it enhance your life in the process. Success and quality are relative terms.

Maybe I should change? Probably not.

So, the other day through the grapevine I heard a track from my former band. The track is one of their "new" songs but it has a familiar twist to it; they are using the actual bassline I recorded years ago on this "new" track. Wow. No request to use it, no notification, no text to ask if it's cool....nothing at all. See, the guitar player doesn't think he needs to ask because he thinks the world revolves around him? He thinks that the fans of this band are actually just fans of him? He's the kind of person who does what will further himelf and his career with little or no regard for what the overall good may be. At least this is MY imprssion -formed from actual experience. It must be liberating to just trample around through life, burning bridges, twisting realities and generally not giving a fuck about other people while you pursue your vision. I wish I was flattered about the use of this bassline but I'm far from it. When the guitarist took off for California after I left the band he took the ADAT tapes of music we had recorded for a record we were making which was to be released by our new label. So, as a result, he "owns" these recordings. I'm not really surprised by his actions (not limited to "the bassline") but I guess I thought he was more of a person. Nope.

Not to mention that my likeness and name are still turning up in current band bios, my picture is turning up in recent ads for an upcoming show and I have gotten some attitude for declining to play the "reunion" show they did a few months back. To say I was an integral member of this band is a wild understatement considering that I started the band with my brother, actually named the band, wrote a majority of the music, marketed diligently to friends and fans, spent thousands of dollars while pushing it and dedicated a large part of my time and life to it. Why, even recent articles they have done for the "reunion" show ignored and/or slighted any/all contributions that myself and other former members had given, instead steering the attention to this guitarist and the singer (the singer does actually have a lot to do with every aspect of the band). For the record, the guitarist only jumped on board back then when he found that we had been talking with an executive with Electra Records. Understandably he wanted to join the "moving ship" that we were and we already knew he was talented and charismatic, so we opened our arms to him joining us. He hardly wrote anything but did revise some riffs, he did co-produce a record together with us and did many positive things to help us advance. Otherwise, he's just not the big fish he's trying to make everyone and himself think he is and he persists in "spinning" the truths and realities to point favorably in his direction. Cool.

I think music itself is enlightening and beautiful. It is bigger than us. I just think that too many music people are more focused on the lifestyle music can provide for them rather than the integrity of their music. They desire the attention, the praise, the notariety and the fame and, once tasted it can be intensly addictive. I also think that what is more important than the preceeding factors is the sense that what you're doing is something important that you MUST get out from inside of you to contribute to the world. Whether it means you'll be famous or live in relative obscurity. Whether it means you'll become financially independent or broke. Whether it means that you're in control or under its control. What matters is the journey, not the destination(s) and the people on the journey with you are the gold. The music you create together is the joined feelings, experiences, evolutions, failures, victories, loves, hates and memories...all to be exposed for the world to hear.

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

Anyway...end rant.

~ZFJ

Thursday, April 21, 2011

“Morning” people, how your ipod cares about you and Social Halitosis

I know that many people are “morning” people and my hat is off to you all. I don’t know how you people are really that motivated and alert in the early morning but again, good for you. I’m not in that category. I fight it. I justify and rearrange things and I am going to change this somehow. Problem is I don’t like to go to bed earlier so I usually need to get inventive in the mornings to get moving. Ironically I end up awake in the early morning most days –just not alert.

For times like this (i.e. every morning) your ipod can step in to help. It knows about you and what your needs are. It has the power and gift of music to bestow upon you and again, it cares about you so it knows what you want to hear. For example, my ipod shuffle this morning panned out like this:

Spoon – Don’t Make Me a Target
Interpol – Obstacle 1
Failure – Solaris
Arcade Fire – Modern Man
Autolux – Subzero Fun
Robert Johnson – 32-30 Blues
Arcade Fire – Ready To Start
Kasabian – L.S.F
Europe – Rock The Night
Queens of the Stone Age – First It Giveth
Jane’s Addiction – Just Because
Spoon – The Underdog
Hall and Oates – I Can’t Go For That

Now that’s how you treat someone when you care about them! Thanks ipod, I owe you one!

Now, on to a very controversial and important subject: Halitosis. More accurately, Halitosis in social settings. Readers, I have written about this in the past but I realize it calls for continued awareness and debate so, here goes. Last night myself and some friends/bandmates were going over songs and working on vocals at my lush and hi-tech home studio when one of my friends, who shall remain nameless, emitted a black cloud of vile halitosis which I unfortunately walked through at one point. So, I pointed out to Rich Tardy that his breath was kickin’. I offered chewing gum to Rich Tardy but he said “I don’t chew gum when I’m drinking”. "Cool". So, we got to deal with it all night. Thankfully Rich is so cool that even with halitosis affecting people’s lives around him, he can just blow it off and have people “deal with it”. But what does one do when they’re not as cool as Rich??? Who will step in to save them and their unsuspecting victims??? When will YOU take action next time someone close to you is crushing you with their halitosis???

What I do for people is the caring and noble thing: I tell them they have bad breath and, if I have the means, offer a remedy to their handicap. Some people think this is rude but I think it is very considerate. If you’re out there at the bar, a date, dinner, a show, a movie or even playing in the sack, you really don’t want to be ruining people’s fun and lives with this kind of aggressive stench. For example, a person who’s lighting it up in conversation at the bar with friends has a right to know that their breath is out of line. They also have a civic duty to correct their disease from that point. Sure it may be “tough love” when you have to be the messenger of such bad news, but rather than coddle the offender and make them believe things are okay, you should step up and do the right thing. You think they really want to be spewing this kind of air at other people in conversation??? They don’t. Nobody should take offense or get mad when a concerned friend offers to help them but sometimes they do. Understandably the first reaction is usually vehement denial or self consciousness but they usually concede to getting help after calming down and digesting the news. Handing them a breath mint or slice of chewing gum is a good start to recovery and is akin to missionaries handing food and water to malnourished war victims. You’ll even sleep easier at night as you continue to extend your helping hand.

I urge you socially active and concerned citizens to begin to step up and initiate change when the vile cloud of halitosis rears its ugly head. Take a deep breath and say to your friend, “Hey man/girl/Mom/Dad/Sister/Brother/Boss etc, your breath is kickin’. Would you like some gum?” It won’t be easy at first, but with time and practice you will get used to shouldering the burden of “the messenger” and will earn the fulfillment of not only helping your friends/family but also yourself.

~ZFJ

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Unwindin'...

...hey there. It's been awhile...don't expect to gain anything from this post.

at the kitchen table...about to mix music D.I.Y...with Rob who seems a bit late...listening to only bass drum tones I really like, trying to hear them all and figure out how they may have gotten the sound...Oh shit. Everything In Its Right Place by Radiohead just came on...no song sets a mood like that, it just drops me right down on the level, as if it's much stronger than me...I spent a lot of time with my son this weekend and it was great (how's that for a mundane statement?)...truly, it was really great...stopped at CVS yesterday for some Theraflu (not for me) and saw these wind chimes...they are normally $20.00 by-the-way but I got them for $9.99, on a "Red Hot Deal!"...I am listening to them now in the background of this music...seems like more rain is coming -only weather-wise- in other ways, the rain seems to be ending. Admire the poetic statement for a minute........ok.

As I said, don't expect anything from this one.

Rob's still not here.

Why do I bet on Sports??? Really. Anyway, this weekend I didn't expect really anything but I ended up getting a lot...it's cool to say, but when you really don't "expect" things you can actually be right where you are.

I just used a "comma" before "but" in the previous sentence. I'd like to thank Soffansays for the grammar advice and the development of the complex I now have...anyway, I can't help but like the Vampire Weekend song that is on right now...and don't you go thinking those wind chimes have stopped, because they haven't...I was reminded this week that action cures fear. Nothing worse than indecision and trying to plan the future. I wish more people in life pissed me off, or had the ability to...also took a walk with my son today -sans the stroller...the kid just held my hand "talking" the whole time and looked at everything with amazement because it had just arrived in his world. Awesome.

And now "Rio" from Duran Duran takes this blog out.

~ZFJ


and Rob just got here

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring Cleaning, The Food Chain and Coyotes interest

I'm going to try to type fast as thoughts flow from my mind here...

My son is wearing a Red Sox jersey today...makes me happy. I only hope that there is Football this year so I can condition him to like the Dolphins. But why? Maybe I should just give him hints on better teams to like? We'll see...so, Friday I left my little job more burned out than I have ever been. Just can't "win"...maybe it's time for a change?

Did watch Social Network the other night and it was pretty awesome. The connected-ness of everything in our time is amazing to think about. I think about how things will be in even 5 years...no, how will they be in even ONE year??? Time and technology are moving at light speed, hopefully we all remember that human interaction is cool too.

Yesterday me and my friend Andy were reminded of our position on the food chain while hiking around Catamount. Spur of the moment decision to embark on the hike and it was the right one. We were headed to Tully's for beers but decided that a Mountain lake area for beers was better. I'll tell you, I was amazed at the kid's skill in actually driving his truck up very thin, snow-covered trails complete with mud and hairpin turns. No joke. It didn't look passable at times but was entertaining as hell to be on that ride -4 wheeling is something I don't get to do much of. Anyway, we're up there having a couple beers, his dog is running all over the place and we hear the sound of a "dog" in the distance. The echo around this mountain lake is incredible so it's tough to pinpoint exactly where a sound may be coming from. Soon we hear the sound of many dogs coming from what we determine is a different area, back near where the truck is parked. Andy informs me that it could be coyotes. Shit. To find yourself literally planning what you will do against a potential attack from a pack of these animals is pretty eye opening. You realize that, you're in their domain and their intention is to sustain their life, maybe that involves trying to eat you? At that point, you realize your position in the food chain. The sunlight was beginning to dwindle, it had gotten colder out, we're hearing these sounds in the distance seeming to get closer and have a decent hike back to the truck ahead of us. Thankfully we get back to the truck without incident, pack the gear and drive down the mountain trail. I was impressed again by Andy's driving skill through these trails. Andy grew up with all this, outdoors, trails...shit, anything outdoor. It's nothing to him but to an "outsider" it's pretty uncanny. Anyway, I chose the hike over the town and it was the right choice, coyotes and all. I'm in need of some real mental/spiritual "house cleaning" and the outdoors are going to be a big part of that this year...just something about the "reality" of it. You just feel your place in the world in the outdoors. Pretense, attitudes and other bullshit go away out there.

Anyway, I have a few days off to play with and I'm cleaning shit out, at home, in music, in life and mind. I'll see where I end up when I'm through it. These days I seem to have forgotten my "next step" and, it's about time.

~ZFJ

Monday, April 4, 2011

Go-Daddy-Fun!

Shit. I love commerce in America, "auto-renew" things and corporate branding bullshit about how they're all about the customer. I really do get a kick out of this sort of stuff but, No. They're all about the profit line -and, that is their perogative.

Well, here I am trying to fend off a costly "auto-renew" attack via Go Daddy for two domains I don't want anymore. The efficiency and diligence they display while trying to collect the money is impressive and outstanding (actually, they already have it due to the effectiveness of the auto-renew thing and, I want it back). Adversely, the efficiency and diligence they display in not returning my email(S) or letting me get through to an actual human being in "customer support" within a relatively decent time frame is, expected.

Today I placed my fourth call. I hit the prompt for "customer support" and I get notified that my wait time is 8 minutes. 5 minutes go by and I have arrived at my lunch destination so I figure I'll have to try later, unfortunately. I try later and end up on hold for longer than the "estimated" 7 minute wait time. Now, I know they're busy people and they do value my business and do appreciate me as a customer. They repeatedly told me so many times while on hold. Even though they value the shit out of me, I can't really spend half the day on hold so I decide to try something new. I go ahead and call again and hit the prompt for the sales department and was astonished to hear that I have a 15 minute wait in front of me! I figure that I'll try to stick it out and, to my amazement, someone came on the line after just 3 minutes! Now THAT is dedication to the customer! I mean shit, I want to cancel some services and I can just fucking wait, but when I call the sales line that boasts an even higher "estimated" wait time, I get a cheery-voiced, attentive sales person on the phone as soon as they could mobilize one! "Awesome". I ended up getting transferred by the sales person back to customer support, where I waited approximately 10 minutes of the "estimated" 6 minute wait time. Damn...

Only in America!

~ZFJ

Friday, April 1, 2011

Common Sense, the video game.

Soooooooooo, there I am the other day, driving along Pleasant St. in Noho. Going slow enough to navigate the congested streets and to avoid the cars with people driving who aren't looking, are confused and flustered trying to get somewhere after the daily grind, are just assuming the other drivers will stop for them when they pull out into oncoming traffic and cars that are darting in and out of parking lots and streets and just about anywhere a car can operate. Indeed, slow enough to avoid the pedestrians who literally walk straight out into the street via the crosswalks and assume/expect that we will see them in time. I felt like I was in some kind of real life video game, on an "advanced" level.

I'm rolling along, got my little son in the V.I.P. back seat designed for him, he's talking about crackers, cookies, Spongebob and everything else, when I approach the area of Pleasant St. in the vicinity where Yes Computers and the restaurant that myself or anyone else doesn't seem to readily know the name of (it's the one across the street from Yes Computers...anyone??)...when, shit hits the fan.

Or, at least my groceries hit the floor.

I approach. There is an Olive colored van-type thing parked right at the start of the crosswalk line. I see no-one and I also don't have a chance to see beyond that van-type thing. I do see a women in a red coat who instantly appeared in front of my still moving car. I slam on the brakes causing all manner of non-tied down items and/or people in my car to fly forward, and I come to a stop just a foot, maybe a foot and a half from her. As I'm swearing and throwing my arms up in "are you fucking kidding me???" style, I look at her. She is glaring at me with "righteous", victim-esque anger. I say "fuck you bitch" very audibly and I guess she can read lips because she stormed onward, down the all-powerful crosswalk to continue onto her important destination. As I continued on to pick up the pieces of my momentarily shattered life -after I waited for the other pedestrians who had entered the sanctum of this crosswalk mere seconds after my near physical encounter with red-coat lady.

Now, please understand that I am completely in favor of the laws in place to protect pedestrians in Northampton and I too am frequently a pedestrian in Northampton. However, I think we should still use common sense despite the vigorous enforcement of the crosswalk law. If you can't see the road then that means we/they can't see you! So, just walking into the crosswalk could be hazardous to your health if you don't actually look at the traffic to see if a vehicle is too close. If you assume then you could be making "an ass out of 'u' and 'me'" :) Or, if you go with your entitlement and/or assumptions rather than your actual skill or common sense, I think you may have trouble in the long run...and the short run...and in the crosswalk.

I propose the creation of a video game called "Common Sense", (there may even be one already one in existence), where we can all hone and practice our common sense skills. In the game, the player will be faced with obstacles and situations of many types where they will be awarded points by using their common sense to navigate through the challenges, or, if they fail to use common sense, they will be destroyed. For example, A woman approaches a crosswalk. She wants to cross the street but there is oncoming traffic that, because of well placed obstructions, will not have the opportunity to see her and hence, will not be able to stop. Should she A) Wait to see if the traffic notices her and THEN proceed? B) Just walk right out into the street within the crosswalk assuming that the established laws will protect her even if the vehicles do not see her and end up smashing into her? or C) Walk out into the crosswalk a little bit, just past the obstruction, to at least let the oncoming traffic see her BEFORE proceeding?

The answer is tricky: It's "B" AND "C" readers! There will also be hundreds of other situations in the game where only common sense will save the player...should be exciting! Let me know who wants to help with the development of this game so we can get wealthy together! Or, go broke because no one gives a shit about common sense these days.

~ZFJ

Other things going on in the world:

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