A Journalist Reignited

San Fermin, “Sonsick”

The world is about marketing. Journalism is about marketing. And for a writer, this is discouraging.

With the internet creating an emphasis on how to make journalism profitable, making it in freelance is more what’s your readership than your technical prowess. No one will read what you write if you can’t market yourself. And who has the time to market themselves anyways? A very dedicated blogger…I guess.

Part of this is why I discourage myself from writing as a primary profession. Part of this is why I envy my companions who have made it in the blogosphere. They work their tails off on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and the like to promote their brand. They put in the effort and they bear the fruit of their work. I’m envious because not only am I unmotivated, but I don’t have a viable topic to share.

I’m not trained in fiction. I have no interest in writing about sports. Or politics. Nor am I informed enough to write on the latter. A music blogging gig would be neat. Y’know, if I had training in music theory. To be frank, I’m only trained in excuses. And for what it’s worth, I’m damn good at excuses. Shit, I’m writing a blog about them right now.

Sort of.

A few months ago I made a crucial decision. I discovered my purpose. My work in a school system had allowed me to pick what I already knew. Here’s some cool Oasis lyric.

The first thing I saw as I walked through the door
was a sign on the wall that read,
It said you might never know that I want you to know

what’s written inside of your head

My time working for the New Haven Board of Ed made me choose counseling (with a concentration in Drug & Alcohol Abuse!) Something I’d wanted to do since first enrolling in undergrad, but reconsidered once I graduated (see why that quote is so relevant!) Counseling my students let me know everything I needed to know about myself.

Yet, here I am blogging after nine months of negligence with a pretentious post title like “A Journalist Reignited.” Clearly I have no idea what I’m doing with myself. Particularly if the post title has any relevance.

Which is why it’s so fascinating to meet these people that do. They just do. They’re all in. Married to a profession. Live or die. Eat, sleep and breath it! It’s insane. For someone to be so passionate about someone. Or something.

They say marriage goes against human nature. Well, I think any kind of permanent connection to anything goes against human nature. How can one classify a human being as exactly anything? And how can a human being classify themselves as exactly anything? I’m married to ____. My job is _____. The very nature is foolish and as a result we are foolish.

(I promise this wasn’t supposed to be an existential crisis post)

I met a reporter over the weekend. We talked writing. Editing. Shit I love talking about. We exchanged contact information and I’m sending her my stuff because she loves editing. Particularly content editing (aka shit everyone can use a touch up on.) For the first time in a long time I want to write. Sue me. And I don’t know what about. Or even why.

Anything. Anything to take me away from the discouraged bullshit my mind was in about a year ago when everything I’d write would go through a repetitive state of events. Here’s a cool list of it:

  1. Brilliant idea
  2. Start writing
  3. Re-read
  4. Damn this sucks
  5. I’m not publishing this amateur garbage

If you’re wondering what writers block looks like. Or what an unmotivated stable life looks like. Is.This.Is.It? This.Is.It.

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My Bloody FUCKING Valentine, “MBV”

Band: My Bloody Valentine
Album: MBV
Grade: 9.5/10 

With Valentines Day just around the corner and a new My Bloody Valentine LP in my hands for the past week or so it was only appropriate.

Kevin Shields is God to hipsters.

Loveless is his crowning achievement. A guitar album that created effects that pushed sound to unseen heights. In a world where originality is praised, Loveless has been the catalyst for copycat impressionists. It  created a movement of shoegazers and dream poppers and lo-fi addicts and post-punkers that only wanted to be half of what My Bloody Valentine is. To the point where in today’s indie, MBVs influence may be second only to The Smiths.

Few shoegaze albums have even compared and ALL are put under the microscope to be Loveless. If you check your Amazon or pitchfork or brooklynvegan, lazy journalism has promoted Loveless as a buzzword over a standard or an individual album. 

There’s a Loveless influence here

They have a My Bloody Valentine vibe

The tremolo guitars reek of Loveless 

A lot of the praise and copycats are warranted. Loveless is a fantastic record. One of depth and juxtaposition. One that permeates the need to be so heavy, yet so soft & in love. The fusion isn’t cheap, but blended, giving this sense of warmth and unpredictability all at the same time. The vocals compliment/add to the music rather than stand on their own, making lyrics almost irrelevant. Loveless was a feeling, and guitarist/vocalist Kevin Shields was the mastermind.

Shields insanity during the making of Loveless is the word of legend. Meticulous attention to detail and the strive for perfection skyrocketed the budget for Loveless and fueled the 22 year hiatus that separated further releases. With Loveless,  Shields’ story has become just as popular as the music. With Loveless, the Shields’ tale of perfectionism to the point of manic depression is mythical in being. So much so that it’s created the story that is My Bloody Valentine.

The story is about 50% of My Bloody Valentine’s mystery. Will they ever follow up? Can they? Should they? With a catalog that includes a top 5 album from the 90s and a classic 80s release (among a bunch of great EPs) MBV has done enough to maintain a legacy of rock star legend. That’s something that some of the greatest performing artists never lived to see.

When Shields announced in late December that their third release, “MBV,” would be coming in the next few weeks…and a month later that it would be coming in the next few days I freaked. Like most fans there’s still some glimmer of hope, but the reality that we’ve heard this all before dominates optimism. It took Shields years to re-master MBV’s back catalog when they were “ready to be released.” When it comes to accurate timetables he’s about as reliable as a broken watch.

Inevitably Shields delivered. “MBV,” the third release from My Bloody Valentine is a return to form for the indie Gods. The album begins almost exactly where “Soon,” left off setting itself up as an album of acts. At 9 tracks and about 46 minutes long, every set of 3 songs acts as a chapter giving fans the MBV they’ve heard before, the stuff they haven’t, and what’s next.

If Loveless was about emotion and love, opener “She Found Now,” describes “MBV,” in its truest form: as the frosty record by the lake. It’s that just barely warm enough to be near the lake record in the dead of late September. There’s warmth and comfort here. A sense that I’ve been here before and here has been with me. It knows me and I know it. And we trust one another. But how much trust can you put in a place to which you have no ownership? Probably not much, but this conundrum is what Shields is so good at portraying.

“She Found Now,” progresses with a pulsating and subtle electric guitar riff and an overbearing level of white noise. It’s dreamy and welcoming pulse sets the mood for an album that will eventually take off into the dead of winter, where mucus dribbles and frost bite inches in all the wrong places.

It’s followed by two guitar tracks that stylistically mirror the Loveless sound. “Only Tomorrow,” and “Who Sees You,” familiarly mix tremolo guitars, white noise and instant melodies to both Bilinda Butcher and Shields’ vocals while maintaining the feeling indebted in “She Founds Now.” “Who Sees You,” in particular really gets me going when the guitar of the last 3 minutes turns into an underwater horn in distress.

It’s the type of thing that can give a music fan the shivers, goosebumps and even tears. We’ve waited for this forever and for Shields’ to deliver on such a magnified level is astounding. 22 years in the making, on and off and probably more off than on, a song like “Who Sees You,” makes the wait so worth it.

The record moves to an awkward period and likely the weakest section of the album. “Is This & Yes,” is a transitional record that moves through organs. It’s the only song on the LP I dislike as it never really goes anywhere or does anything. There’s very little to latch on to and in reality it may expose Shields’ and co. for what they are without guitars. Not very much.

The next two songs (“If I Am,” and “New You,”) are dream pop records with Butcher on vocals. Nothing to wow you here, but there’s more warmth on these records to continue the vibe established within the first song. They’re easy records to like and the most accessible on the album. Guitars are smooth and white noise is minimal as the guitar/bass combo swoons in and out of consciousness throughout both.

For Butcher, these records fit like a glove and though many have complained that “New You,” is almost too clean to be an MBV record I think it’s a nice contrast to the rest of the album. If the record is progressive in nature, and I believe it is, (it’s almost like moving from September to the dead of winter to be blunt about it) “New You,” is the eye of the storm. It’s a swan song for the warmth the first five songs laid, but is followed by an experimental and exceptionally loud final three songs.

Following “New You,” is the beginning of the final act. “In Another Way,” certainly maintains the stylistic contributions of the first few songs and could have easily fit on Loveless but there’s something different here. The record is closer to “Soon,” (the record many look at as the song to push MBV further on Loveless) than anything else.

The same effects are in place here, but there’s two guitars at work almost inter-tangling with one another. The first and loudest is heavy and sharp, but there’s still this light and smooth second guitar that acts like a glimmer of a hope, so to speak. Even when the song punches it maintains precision, easily socking you in the eye when it plans to. Clearly, Shields has full control of what he wants to do.

On the flip side,”Nothing Is,” is wildly punching without a care in the world. It’s the stark contrast of “New You,” in accessibility and “In Another Way,” in control. Synths thump and drums wreck havoc through this track with sharp guitars that could give a kid in a bubble a paper cut. This is new MBV and it’s chaotic and rough. It bears resemblance to Radiohead’s “Idioteque,” in the way it maintains the atmosphere, but Shields doesn’t need vocals to make something chaotic. Just loud synths and a jack hammer of a riff.

It’s made many wonder, even, why the album isn’t full of track like this and finale “Wonder 2,” a track that builds from “Nothing Is,” stylistically with vocals.

“Wonder 2,” takes the idea of soaring to new heights. It’s like Chapterhouse’s “Falling Down,” on performance enhancing drugs. Shields’ has created a dozen effects that have blended to one sound, emulating a plane plummeting head first to its demise. It’s chaotic in nature and has a near unbearable guitar during transitions that acts as more punch in the gut than tickling of my dick.

Yet, it’s all beautiful. When My Bloody Valentine sounds like hell, they still keep beauty as a working component because that’s what they are. It’s what no other band before or after can match or has even tried to emulate openly even if everyone secretly wishes they could.

And while “Wonder 2,” isn’t the ideal closer, it’s fitting as the finale of the third act. It maintains this triumphant feeling of possibility. How hard work pays off. As the song plummets to its finale, it recognizes there in of itself that it has no ending. 5 minutes and 52 seconds doesn’t end the record, the MBV legacy or the wait for follow ups. If the Wu-Tang is forever then so is My Bloody Valentine.

The age old question will still prevail, but I finally have an answer. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely. Undoubtedly. Fuck yes.

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The Balance Of Ranting Because Even An Assault Proves That YOLO

Recent times have found me working as a substitute teacher/teaching aide for the New Haven Board of Education. Within a year, if I choose, I can easily make the transition from sub to full-time teacher.

I’ve been subbing for every subject — from Psychology to English to Math. For every subject comes a new group of kids, but a common theme transcends their age & social status. They’re all finding out how they can seek some purpose in their mundane lives. They’re fiddling with opportunity even though (most) have no idea that their doing so.

For all the aspirations these kids have, there’s a naivety to their desires. Some are concerned with athletics. Others in social status. Some in books. Their dreams lust from their pores to their team jumpsuits, social circles and work ethic when around a sub (because really, doing work when a sub is around is about as optional as underwear for a whore in church.)

While the answers could be clear in their demeanor I enjoy asking them what their plan is. I recall how much I hated the question myself at their age (I still do), so I like ironically picking at their immature drivel (I’m going to call myself out for being pretentious here.)

I’m tryna go to the league Mister Clark

I’m looking at *insert school* where they have a great pre-law program. Then *insert top 10 law school here* because going to anything less is a waste of money 

I plan on going to *insert school* where I’ll study in *insert subject* and become *insert occupation that pays a ton of money*

Instead of doubt, I get assurance. There’s no “college, I guess?” These kids have the next ten years mapped out. They’re big dreamers. Even if the likelihood of them following through with half of their aspirations is low at best. 

I guess I envy them. I had no idea at 14. I had no idea at 17. Shit. I have no idea at 23.

My fear is that for all the dreams they have they’re wasting opportunities with immaturity. They’re out drinking. They’re smoking weed in the bathrooms. They’re stressing over minuscule high school drama. They’re content that GPA & extracurriculars might mean jack shit when they apply for college. They’re being kids. 

It’s not their fault. I wasted the same opportunities being a kid. Only six years their senior, I feel obligated to share my experience. Now, maybe they’ll make the same mistakes. Maybe they’ll find a balance. Maybe I shouldn’t ruin their youth.

For how grown I thought I was at 15, let it be known that no one is or was. For how grown we think we are with our cigarettes, coffee, neatly ironed shirts and cuffed pants these days, there’s no one with life in their body that isn’t a child at heart. In search of some thrill to make life worth living. 

I know that seems silly to think. Who hasn’t changed since their freshman year of high school? How can a 5 year old and a 90 year old have something in common?

Just from a physical standpoint we’ve added weight, grown in height and been scarred from head to toe. Emotionally we’ve experienced more than Noah’s Ark and pat ourselves on the back for still being a functional member of society. As if not being a closeted sociopath is something to cheer about.

Since high school I’ve always hoped to disregard work. I want to really live life. I think we all do. You only live once? Yeah, no shit.

Somewhere at the age of 15, I was on a street corner finding out the results of mixing diet soda and Mentos. I was running around in unknown neighborhoods visiting my friends and girls they knew. We were feeling titties and getting blow jobs. Smoking our first cigarettes  and watching things explode. We were feeling what life was. We were giving ourselves purpose. For us, this was how it felt to be alive.

Fast forward seven years. I’m finding out the results of blood and STD tests regularly. I’m screaming to the top of my lungs singing Eddie Money’s Take Me Home Tonight at the local bar. I’m kissing some girl whose name I can barely remember. Little does she know I haven’t brushed my teeth all day and puked earlier. Somewhere earlier in the night I had a few lines of cocaine and buried my liver in shots of Goldshlaager. See the difference? Not really.

And I know no one lives my life. Hell, you may not even understand what I’m talking about.  I’ve surrounded myself with quite a few who live vicariously through me and I appreciate the contrast in worlds they give me. They have not realized that death is imminent. That since they’ve been born, death has been leaching every worthwhile ounce of life they have left. THEY HAVE NOT REALIZED YOLO. And I have. I’m blessed.

But I digress. For every thrill-seeking, life enhancing action, there are doubters. Consequences. Snarling critics. I’m one, certainly, though I’m realizing that as I judge my students I’ve slowly turned into the old farty peers I have that don’t realize YOLO.

Who am I to criticize a child that didn’t go for that girl he’s interested in? To laugh at the one who can barely make the high school basketball team, but thinks he’ll play in the NBA. To bite my thumb at the ones whose weekends consist of studying for tests weeks in advance. To discourage students that troll their peers by convincing them the world will end on December 21st.

For everyone who I’ve said will regret their young years — those in long-term relationships, engulfed in studying/school, missing out on nights of cheap thrills, or whom act like their 40 when they’re 22…well, I have essentially become them, over night. All it took was a few high schoolers to give me some perspective. Who knew.

What’s funny is that even though I know I’ve wasted potential productivity, I wouldn’t change anything. Partially because I know as insane as it sounds, I’ve lived a life of balance. One of productivity with an enviable life of thrill-seeking. Can you say the same? Can many? I don’t think so…

Of course no one sees this. People latch on to the negative. My nights of Eddie Money, cocaine and bad breath have made me the permanent poster boy for immaturity. It doesn’t matter that I maintained a 3.0 in college. Doesn’t matter that I worked 25 hours a week. Doesn’t matter that I did this while drinking 3-4 nights a week. I consider this mature. Maybe I should re-consider my definition.

Maturity these days is almost like an age given right. I’m 23. I’m supposed to be more mature than a 15 year old. By self-realization and experience, I absolutely am. By actions on my nights when I want to prove that YOLO?!?!?!?! Maybe not.

Maybe I aide these kids in finding the same. But that’s just it. They’re kids. All they know is YOLO.

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Eight Ways To Keep The Unemployed Both Productive & Unproductive…For Cheap

“So you got a full-time, forty hour a week job, eh?” said John.

“Yeah. Something like that…”

This was me last month. I was finding the best way to keep my foot out of my mouth as I quit my old job. Y’know, just in case I ever needed to go back…

Just in case.

They found me out. Like they always do. I had opened my big mouth too much and I knew it earlier in the month. I had spoke to too many co-workers about my desire to leave. How the upgrade of my position had left a sour taste in my mouth.

Three years ago, I started working at a place called Milbar Laboratories on and off. In July, they offered me a desk position. A thinking job! I was moving on up!

Or was I?

Yeah, it was a promotion, but nothing like I expected. They wanted to cut my hours and refused to increase my wages.

I know that makes little sense for a promotion, but allow me to explain. The person who held the position before was the company owners grandson. He had a bit of special treatment and made more money than he was probably supposed to for a niche’ position

I expected to make the same wage he made. The same hours he demanded. Instead I got the shaft by lack of blood relation. My luck, I suppose.

So here I am in July with the offer on the table. I didn’t decline the offer. I looked my new boss square in his bald face and said I was interested. And I was. For the right price.

But I was also disrespected when the right price didn’t come about. This is what my college degree had gotten me. I work my tail off for three years and you people call me back every year only to pull some shit like this? Do I look like a sucker?

I accepted the offer and assumed the position. Max (incumbent at my new position) trained me for a month before he left. On his last week I told them I had found a 40-hour a week job somewhere else. Self-satisfaction I suppose.

It wasn’t that I couldn’t swallow my pride and work the position. God knows I needed the money. The level of disrespect really irked me. Ate me up a bit. That’s the thing about jobs that don’t require a degree — if someone else can do it, you’re useless to them. Yesterday’s trash.

But what happens when yesterday’s trash sits on the front lawn for a week? It comes back in the house. Stinks the house up for a week. Yeah, the trash is gone next week, but for seven days you’re sitting there waiting for the trash man. For however long it took to replace me as Max’s incumbent, there was yesterday’s trash, allowing them to fumble for a new Yes Man.

Besides I know I’d never really look for a job unless I left my old one.

In the last month I’ve done just about everything one can do that’s unemployed. You have to find ways to manage your time. Waste your time. And on a budget, at that. It’s not like I have money to splurge on useless things.

That means bye bye bar tabs, concerts, and the like. Drugs are a waste and so are strip clubs. Buying new clothes means searching through your family members clothing to find something that fits. Or just avoid malls at all costs.

Drinking for football games becomes a waste of money. Why go to the bar for the football game when I can watch it right on my computer with a 6 pack my dad bought for himself? He won’t mind if I take a beer…or six.

How does one occupy their time without a real, substantial job, school or some kind of mission every day? Easy, really…he does a lot of productive and unproductive things for cheap. No lame shit like going to a park or picking up some arts & crafts hobby. This isn’t one of those lists that you’ve read a million times and said to yourself “why would I ever waste my time doing that” or “I’d have to be REALLY bored to do that.”

1. Look for a job
Cost: Variable, but often nothing
Convenience: You can do it right from your computer/cell phone

“When looking for a job is your full-time job”

It seems simple enough. Looking for a job costs nothing and it’s easy to do. If you have a degree you can look in specific fields or specific sites (I’ve been looking at plenty of non-profit organizations with my Psych degree.) If you don’t have a degree, don’t fret — Craigslist is your friend. It’s separated by major cities and offers everything from salary jobs to minimum wage positions. I’ve received offers for salary jobs in Long Island and Milford since beginning the job search. I’ve also applied to wage jobs like Au Bou Pain and the Courtyard Marriott Hotel in New Haven

2. Reading
Cost: 
20 bucks or less
Convenience: Your local book store or library should be near

But you said you weren’t going to name things I’d never do…

Yeah, reading is lame. All the cool kids in high school just spark noted everything. Reading in college, if you went there, was a chore. In most classes I could simply go to class to supplement buying the book and reading the chapters. These are all fine points, but I beg the question that if reading is so lame, why are you reading my blog?

We read what we want to read no matter how mindless and useless it is. For some people this is politics for others it’s world news and for the most basic in creation it’s the sports section of your local newspaper.

Part of my interest in reading is my writing. As a writer there’s a stigma about writers that don’t read. Particularly good writers that don’t read. They don’t exist. 

How can you become a better writer if you don’t read other people’s work? “Steal,” and implement other styles into your own style? If you want to be a good writer don’t show me your articles, show me your bookcase (I’m almost positive I stole that from something I read at some point.)

So what do I read? I like philosophy, really. I like reading from Buddha, Friedrich Nietzsche and Fyodor Dostoevsky. I like the way these guys think and I like their outlooks on the world.

You don’t necessarily have to be like me. You can read about whatever you want. Sitting on wikipedia all day and getting a laymen view of Marx theory could be more productive than staring at your XBOX today. I once sat on wikipedia to figure out why my favorite TV shows were cancelled. You’d be surprised to hear about the Judy Paradox in Family Matters or how the mothers in both Fresh Prince and Family Matters suddenly became light skinned black females.

3. Becoming a Youtube Star

Cost: With an iPhone, smart phone or digital camera (what most people have) — nothing. An iPhone 4 with a new contract is also FREE by the way!
Convenience: Easy if you’re charismatic and have a semi-interesting life

Did you know that if you maintain a loyal following on Youtube, you can make money via advertisements? Youtube offers money if you allow them to put advertisements on your video before it is viewed. You can have this by simply getting enough views on one of your videos. According to this article, you can make 3-10 bucks for every 1,000 views. 1,000,000 views is suddenly 10,000 dollars. That’s good money for making an auto-tuned version of Charlie Bit Me

Of course there are other requirements like building your brand and whatnot. This should be business class 101 for most.

4. Working Out
Cost:
20 bucks a month at Planet Fitness, could be cheaper
Convenience: What the hell else are you going to do?

I’m not a gym rat by any means. In fact, I despise working out for the most part. I just hope that girls don’t laugh at my body if they see it naked (unless all these years they’ve been laughing at my dick size. Errr…)

As a way to end this, you can join a gym. Seems simple enough, but is there a cheaper alternative? Sure. Recently a buddy of mine has been training with me on this toning regimen that includes 300 push-ups, sit-ups, dips, jumping jacks, wall-sits and squats in one hour. Of EACH. You also include planks after sit-ups and sprints in-between sets. Sound intense? It is. I’ve only been able to incorporate 5 of these workouts into my own workout in one hour.

While none of this will increase muscle (to my knowledge) it makes you stronger and more toned. So for those just hoping that a girl won’t laugh at your body when naked (or your dick size) you can at least be toned when she sees you.

For those trying to build muscle without the monetary backing of a gym membership you can do like I used to do: use people. My friend Chris has an in-home gym with old weights he bought off Craigslist. If you’re lucky enough to have this friend, use him to his fullest extent. If he’s a good friend, he’ll give you a key to his basement to use his workout material when he’s not there. More than likely, you’ll have to work out when he does.

5. Start a Blog
Cost: 
Nothing
Convenience: Easy. Just have a laptop or computer

My friend Caitlin once asked me to help her start her own blog. I didn’t help her. Good thing. Now she’s running one of the biggest fitness & food blogs in the state of Connecticut.

Starting a blog takes no talent at all. Starting a good blog, with a loyal following and a brand is predicated on a few things:

  • Having a topic that appeals to people: If you want a following in any sense you should write about something that people want to read about. There’s an audience for the basics, even if a lot of it is cluttered. Music, food, fitness, politics, etc. Finding an interesting way of distributing an opinion on a cluttered market seems difficult. I honestly suggest looking at what’s worked before and what hasn’t.For example, who before Tucker Max was able to write about the life of a douche bag that just has sex and drinks? None to my knowledge.
  • Building an audience: This would come with interacting with others in your field. If you’re like Caitlin Croswell of Cait Plus Ate and you want to talk food & fitness, follow other food & fitness blogs on twitter, wordpress, tumblr, etc. They’ll follow you. Read your stuff. Even embrace and share your brand. If you’re a writer somewhere else, starting a blog should  be the next step. You already have an audience.
  • Being a half-decent writer: Doesn’t hurt.

6. Alcohol

Cost: Variable
Convenience: Your local liquor store shouldn’t be far if you’re reading this

Drinking is one of my favorite things and I get invited to do it often. The issue is managing my money while drinking. What was supposed to be a cheap drinking night or a night of few drinks can just as easily turn into a $100 bar tab.

Here’s some tips:

  • Don’t open a bar tab: Drunken you can add a lot to a bar tab. Drunken you might tell friends to put their drinks on your tab. If you want to save money, skip the bar tab.
  • Don’t buy drinks for girls: Waste of money, waste of time. Offering to buy a girl a drink can end up with “OK thanks…” as she leaves. If conversation is going well, consider it. But only for fear of seeming cheap.
  • Don’t buy drinks for anyone else: I’m of the notion that shots for my friends or a round of drinks for my friends only comes to my thought process when I’m really drunk or it’s someone’s birthday. I suggest you think this way as well.
  • Pre Gaming: Buy a handle and make your own drinks. Those four drinks that costs 6 bucks a pop and don’t even have you hammered can be sufficed with an 18 dollar Handle of Burnetts that can keep you drunk for a few weekends.
  • Drink Specials: Nickel night was a special we used to have at UConn where low-level drinks are a nickel for an extended period of time. There’s of course those 2 dollar Blue Moon nights, quarter drafts, happy hours, half price drinks, etc. Make sure to get the half price drinks that contain a lot of alcohol though. And in typical scumbag fashion, don’t forget to forget to tip! …unless you know the bartender
  • Cheap Liquor & Cheap Counterparts: Reality is, give me 3 40 oz’s and i’m set for a night. That can cost 6-9 bucks. Reality is, a handle of Burnetts is 18 bucks and can last an entire weekend or more.

7. Visiting Your Friends On College Campuses
Cost: 
Variable
Convenience: Depends on how far they live and the means of transportation

As a graduate I get a lot of invites to go back to UConn. My expectations for visiting UConn or any other school is pretty simple…

  • You’re driving, right?: This can also be accompanied with the you don’t expect gas money, right? notion. Of course, these questions only apply if someone wants you to accompany them on a trip to a school of their choosing.
  • How far is it, do I have ample parking and what kind of deals can I get?: If you’re visiting someone that’s close or out-of-state with your own car, there’s the option of public transportation (Greyhound does an online special for bus fare if you plan a week in advance and/or if you’re a student.) Public transportation doesn’t just work for visiting schools, it works for a lot of other things. Depending on your town, bus fare in Connecticut maxes at a $1.30. A train to New York City from New Haven is less than 20 bucks. A bus ride from CT to PA is 90 bucks round trip if you plan a week in advance. There’s also the option of driving (but who wants to pay for gas?) or conveniently accompanying someone on their trip back to school.
  • You have a meal plan, right?: If the person you’re visiting doesn’t, think about it this way — I came all this way to visit you, you better feed me!
  • Apply Alcohol thought processes here: See ‘Alcohol’ section

8. Catching up on TV shows
Cost:
Nothing if you do it right
Convenience: Moderate

Girls, you know all those cult TV shows your cool friends watch while you watch Grey’s Anatomy and 16 & Pregnant? Guys, you know all those cult TV shows your cool friends reiterate quote after quote from while you twiddle your thumbs hoping someone’s willing to talk about the latest terrible episode of South Park or The Big Bang Theory?

Here’s the time to go out and watch them! They’re worth your time. The Breaking Bad’s, Dexter’s and It’s Always Sunny’s of the world can be acquired from Netflix, Amazon or Hulu. If they can’t be acquired legally from there you can always “steal,” these shows on torrents or websites. Of course, I wouldn’t know about those type of things as I don’t steal…

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Time To Organize My Portfolio

Morrrissey, “How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel?”

Disclaimer: Realized that I didn’t want to edit anything. So I didn’t edit anything.

It’s time to put this blog to good use. That means it’s time to clean this shit up…

I never really thought I’d use this thing as a portfolio or long-term display of my work, but I’m actually applying to jobs in  the journalism field. So, yes this thing is no longer just for fun. Now it means something. Now it’s time to get serious.

Something that’s been overstated in my blog over the years is that I really don’t care what my readers think of the shit I write. Likewise, I really don’t care about grammatical errors, spelling mistakes or sloppy sentences. Yes, there are occasions when I’ve taken more thought into my posts than others and yes the writing I’ve done over the past few months is probably subject to this, but for the most part I just jot down thoughts. Sorry to dissapoint you. My best writing comes in graded stories or anything I can get published.

I will tell you this: editing 40+ posts of my own shit over the last 16 months will be the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.

My friend Alex and I would chat about editing and he always brought up a great point about how difficult it is to edit your own stuff. Even worse is watching your friends try to edit it because friends aren’t critics. They’re friends. They’re there to make you feel better about your work.

It’s not that they’re lying, it’s just that they don’t know any better. Do friends know what well-written even looks like? Do I? And how much is “I love your blog,” a synonym for “I like the points you made, but from a technical writing standpoint it’s trash.”

This goes beyond writing of course. How often do you criticize your girlfriend or boyfriend for their cooking? I mean, they just went out of their way to cook for you. The least you can do is sit there, smile and say you enjoyed it.

How about some girl’s new haircut? You know she wants a compliment — hell, some girls beg for compliments. You know the type: the ones that casually mention how they got their haircut last night. The ones that casually mention how they lost X amount of pounds. God forbid you didn’t notice. Even worse if you don’t pump the ego up with a “Yeah, you look great.”

I’m no holier than thou type nigga either. Fuck, I do it too. I went to a musical back in high school where this girl Jackie was the lead role. As she performed I sat there and criticized her. I couldn’t stand her singing and neither could my friend Chris. Then she went off the stage and we gave her hugs and told her how great she was. The hell am I supposed to say?

As I edit (particularly the best of 2011 music section) feel free to text or comment me about the process. Writing issues you see, or ways to make things cleaner or tighter. Yes, I know I just insulted your input, but any input is good input (plus I’m your shitty friend that will use a backhanded compliment to use your advice!)

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Today I’m Realizing That I Need To Stop Being Dwight Howard


Lyrics

It’s funny what things can inspire you. I can sit here for days with the urge to write. Wanting it. Feening. And nothing. Absolutely nothing. It kills.

Sometimes I force myself to write. Then I write garbage. It’s so unproductive. My readers can see the difference. Even if they won’t admit it. It’s hard to have a friend critique your work. They always just say, “it was really good.” And yeah, maybe it is. But how can it be really GREAT. That’s what I want.

One thing I’ve learned about writing is that it can’t be forced. Art can’t be forced. I won’t sit here and insinuate that my writing is art. If it is, it’s some low-level bullshit art (accurate!) But a professor of mine once called writing a form of performing art. He’s right. Music is art. Painting, sculpting, dancing — art. Acting is art. Writing too.

Today I was inspired by a song (and make no mistake about it — my influences bleed free in this low level bullshit artist.) I’ve recently been listening to the latest Fiona Apple album. Track five, entitled “Left Alone,” really stuck like a sore thumb (lyrics under the embed.) The theme is simple enough — girl talks about love. But rather than question an outside source, she questions herself.

Apple makes it known what I think a lot of people overlook. People are in love with the idea of being in love, but despite their expectations to, y’know, be in love, they’d rather just ravish over the idea and put up walls to defend when cupid finds them. Then sit there and wonder why they can’t find anyone.

Before I’m crucified by my male peers for writing about some mushy love shit (I know you’re out there — snickering) hear me out. Tell me you don’t to some degree fantasize about being married. Having kids. You won’t run the streets and chase tail ’till your 50. If you do, hats off. You’re a better man than me. When it’s all said and done, I quote Chris Rock — married and bored or single and lonely — ain’t no happiness nowhere.

Let me re-focus on Fiona’s song though. She admits that she wants to be in love. She wants it. Yearns for it. Then it comes around and she gets defensive. She wants to be left alone. She pushes away. Makes excuses. Finds reasons to not be in love. Why?

It begs the question — does anyone actually want to be in love? Do you want to be in love, or are you in love with the idea of being in love? And when you do find it, why does everyone decide marriage is appropriate at the same age? Set a goal for being married by 25 and meet that goal. Why not 18? Why not 38? 56? Why rush or push something away because it doesn’t meet what you thought your life goal was.

I recognize children is an issue with this. Real nigga Mike says, you mise well get a girl knocked up a couple of times and have a baby momma. Just one baby momma. Two or three is where it gets sticky.

But really, I look into myself and can’t agree more with Fiona’s interpretation of herself. I do this all the time. Petty things ruin a girl for me. My own insecurities. My own selfishness. Inability to let anyone in (god, girls CRUCIFY me for this — and they ALL recognize it & call me out.) I can sit here and think to myself what a catch I am. And then recognize that, as the genius Morrissey said, if you’re such a catch why are you alone tonight?

That’s not to say I’m alone, crying and moping all day. Who does that? This isn’t meant to be sad & droopy. Shoulders humped and head hung low. Fuck that. I’m fine. I just love self-realization.  Knowing why I do what I do. I think everyone loves that.

So today I’m realizing that I need to stop being Dwight Howard when a girl shows interest. Subconsciously thinking to myself, how can I absolutely ruin this?

Oh and for what it’s worth, here’s some entertainment. I couldn’t get over this goon of a nigga trying to sing the same Fiona song this post is about.

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A Summer Summed Up In A 3 Minute Tune

Openly, everyone associates summer with the beach and skimpy clothes. Secretly, everyone associates it with music. The perfect kind for the summer mood.

The summer has been pumping for only a month now. Summer & I have a love-hate relationship. On the one hand, I’m like anyone else — I like the occasional beach day, those little white shorts girls are obsessed with wearing by the first day of Spring and the late nights that never drop below 70 degrees.

On the other hand, I’m a minority. I have no need for tanning. Too much sun turns me as crispy black as burnt crust on an overcooked pizza. Keeping cool is a bitch. And costs money. The electric bill payments suck. I get too hot and I sweat. A lot. Sweaty balls are only rivaled in rancidness to a smelly pussy. And maybe smelly balls.

But in all instances, I love music for the mood. Luckily, summer is a three month long acid trip. If it’s bright and sunny, there’s a song for that. If it’s pouring rain, there’s a song for that. On the best summer albums, these songs are found on the same LP.

The best summer albums often come out sometime in the spring. Or summer. These records sparkle in instrumentation. Utilize hand claps. World beat production. Multi-layered harmonies. Talk about summer love. Mope about summer lust. They’re not just catchy pop songs either. Sometimes, they’re drowned in loud guitars.

For purposes of this entry, I present my favorite albums for the summer of 2012

Weird Dreams, “Little Girl” from their “Choreography” LP

Weird Dreams debut LP has everything you could ask for in a summer LP. Jangly guitars drowned in dreamy instrumentation and multi-layered guitars with catchy chorus after catchy chorus. There are songs of lust and angst, songs of masochism, and songs of love all packed in just about 47 minutes of music. Highly recommended, one of my favorite pop albums of the year.

Holding Nails
Hurt So Bad

Beach House, “Lazuli” from their “Bloom” LP

Beach House’s latest record is appropriately named “Bloom,” for the build up of so many of the songs on this record. Not an immediately engaging record, but a slow builder that has kept me coming back for more. Perfect album to chain smoke cigarettes to on a lazy summer day.


Violens, “When To Let Go” from their album “True

Violens latest is probably the most questionable to put on this list. It’s the darkest of all the records on here and even includes drone instrumentals. Still, quite a few of these songs have that sand between your ashy black toes feel. That’s enough for me.

Through The Window
Sariza Spring

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Groupie Crush: When Being A Fan Simply Isn’t Enough

Fiona Apple, “To Your Love”

It’s fair to say I’m a sucker for a girl who can appoint to my recreational interests. Actually, I think it’s fair to say anyone who shares interests with you is a person you’d like to be around. Conversations with writers? I dig that. Similar tastes in music? Let’s talk about it.

Applying this to my recent life, a friend I haven’t had a real conversation with in years is accompanying me to see Sleigh Bells this Saturday in New York. Through the two hour train ride, I guarantee we won’t be hard-pressed to find something to chat about. Most chats probably won’t stray far from music.

Tastes make me an elitist and occasionally pretentious asshole. For whatever reason, my brain processes my own values in entertainment as better than everyone else’s, so if you hold a similar taste not only do I find a slight glimmer of hope for the brain capacity of humanity, but you’re already considered smarter than the rest of the ingrates that are a part of my generation . I recognize how back-handed arrogant that sounds.

Getting on topic (wait! you mean I was off topic in a matter of three paragraphs?) girls and music are two of my favorite things. To combine the two is near unfathomable. It’s one thing to like what I like — it’s another thing to make what I like.

As an unfiltered piece of shit I have no issues admitting that I can become a groupie. Yes, a groupie. Like those girls who bitch about feminism and then scream their heads off for girlfriend beating Chris Brown. Like those gay guys who find it appropriate to wear assless chaps and birds nests on their heads to a Lady Gaga concert. Like black people who find it OK to attend a Jay-Z concert. Every Jay-Z concert. Regardless of if the last album was good (the last nine years have been awful for Jay-Z fans.)

Without further ado, I submit my groupie crushes. The top five. The criteria is simple, really. Besides making music these girls tend to have that “it,” factor for me, which can include one (or multiple) of the following…

  • Being bat shit crazy
  • Making great music
  • Being smoking hot (funny how I didn’t mean for this list to be listed by importance. Funny that it is. Also funny that this falls 3rd on a list of importance when defining what girls I become a lame groupie for. My justification, however is that I’ve gotten over the fact that no celebrity would touch me with a ten foot pole. Not even Whoopie Goldberg. Maybe Whoopie Goldberg.)

5. Fiona Apple

The obvious is obvious. Fiona is smoking hot. Blessed with beautiful dark hair and swamp green eyes, Apple has a knack for (as the New Yorker said) making that underfed Calvin Klein model look, look good. She’s twig thin and while that’s often a turnoff I can overlook such formalities for a pretty face. Oh and let’s not forget that ‘ole girl makes damn good music and has an insane  ear for production.

Fiona Apple singing “Shadowboxer

4. Annie Clark of St. Vincent

For my personal preferences a thin, tall indie girl with curly hair is perfection (see: emphasis on curly.) One that can tear the gee-tar like Annie can? Shit! Annie has a fat butt and is probably the most musically talented on this list. I guess my main issue with her is she’s the most sane girl on this list (which isn’t saying much, really.)

Annie Clark telling me how much she loves me

3. Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells

I’m pretty sure the guys from Bowling For Soup couldn’t hold their semen in for 12 seconds if Alexis Krauss walked in the door. From a metrics meter, she’s physical perfection; thick in the perfect spots, thin in the necessary ones. Her aura screams rough, but her vocals are inviting. It’s telling of a female that’s rough on the outside, but soft once you get to know her. In a way, this juxtaposition in character intrigues me.

Alexis in the best music video of 2012

2. Alice Glass of Crystal Castles

Rail thin and relatively pale, Glass is probably the least physically pleasing on this list. I think her major draw for groupie hoes like myself is her back story & general lack of concern for societal limits spoon fed by the media. She ran away at the age of 14 to live in a squat community where she did tons of drugs and listened to music. I don’t need to go any further. She’s bat shit crazy. I love it.

On her last two tours she broke her ribs (2008) and sprained her ankle (2010) and still performed. In fact, when I saw her in concert she came out on crutches with a bottle of Jack Daniels. She proceeded to tell the crowd how the doctor told her it was unsafe for her to continue to perform. She did anyways. Even crowd surfed a few times. It may have been all for show, but if you can’t get groupie for a girl like that, you have no soul.

Alice Glass being Alice ****ing Glass

1. Kreayshawn

Overdone on makeup with extended eyelashes, that one excessive line of eyeliner, styled in a choker and her signature Minnie mouse ears, Kreayshawn has recently become my new go groupie for girl. She tucks her shorts just over her thin belly button, rocks hipster glasses and yet goes against the grain by being a goofy tatted up rapper. She has everything I could ever want. She’s a thug. Raps. Directs. Embraces being hipster (who does that?) She’s probably the coolest chick in music. My only hope is that she’d call me a racial slur in bed one day.

For what it’s worth, she’s undeniably underrated in the looks department also.

Kreayshawn, “Gucci, Gucci”

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Everything Is New

Big Star – “O My Soul,”

I received a dose of reality recently. I met a girl at the bar. She’s 28, a graduate of Cornell and New York University. She’s a teacher at a nearby school. Gorgeous girl, smart clearly. What is she doing talking to my clearly out-of-her-league ass?

I’m an incredible pessimist (all the time.) Just two months ago I was getting black out drunk four nights of the week. Four months ago I received a blowjob from a woman I knew for less than ten seconds. Seven months ago I took a shit at five in the morning at a train station for the fuck of it. Naturally I can’t understand what I bring to the table with any girl besides hard dick and the occasional joke on the off chance she finds humor in my antics (chances are, she probably doesn’t.) That’s not some braggadocio bullshit, either. Actually, it’s probably a bit pathetic. Why I’m a pessimist in this situation should come as no surprise considering the girl is an Ivy League scholar. Everything is new. It sounds cliché. Feels it too.

In university everyone sits on an even playing field – kind of. Your status may be different. Credentials too. But years of school don’t discriminate through semantics. For better or worse, the person you are is what’s going to get a girl home at night. For better or worse that still applies post-graduation. It’s just your money has to do some talking as well.

For five years I never cared about status. I loathed it, actually. Post-grad marks the entry to status.

So where do you stand in the grand scheme of things? What does your bank account read? How’s your car? You want a girlfriend? You better have money. Be well off. You live with your parents? When do you move? You work for that shitty paper? You make $25,000 a year – I make twice that! Why would I lower myself to associate/love/participate in activities with such a dope?

Think it doesn’t matter? Take my friend Caroline into account. She was accepted into UConn’s medical school this past year. In a few years, she’ll be making $100,000. Her boyfriend majored in journalism. Let’s say they’re together when she’s out of school and she’s making (probably) four times what he makes. Who would burn her at the stake for ditching the nigga like a bucket of day old McDoubles?

As a man it’s de-masculinating to the fullest extent. It’s one thing to make what your girl makes. It’s fine to make a bit less. For any man to make $75,000 less than their girl feels fucking pathetic. I don’t care who you are.

It’s crazy to think that after so many years of rejecting college as a means to a well-paying job that it’s finally struck home. What am I here for and what have I really accomplished in 18 years of school?

You’d like to think money doesn’t matter. Or status. But it does. And it fucking sucks.

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Fear Factor Of A Post-Graduate

Spring Break 2012 in Miami

La Sera – “I Can’t Keep You In My Mind”

One week ago I graduated. I sat in fear of this day. Not because I actually feared graduation. I feared the day would never come. I’ve convinced myself, actually.

There are those occasional markers. They keep the end in view. Apply for graduation. Buy your cap and gown. Excessive drinking. Really excessive, actually. To the point where exams the next day means drinking the night before if the right opportunity presents itself.

When I was five I was told I can be whatever I wanted to be. As I became older I realized these weren’t plausible occupations. It didn’t pay enough. It was unrealistic. I wasn’t physically gifted enough. I only wanted the job for the money. I was too lazy to put in the effort. I must have gone through a dozen jobs before I graduated elementary school, but reality sets forth like a cold brick flown to your temple at light speed and man, does that shit hurt.

I settled, admittedly. Not everyone does. Some put that effort in. Some get started at an early age. Some couldn’t give a fuck less what they’re getting paid. I choose to take the route that would give ample use of my time for professions that I love, regardless of pay. Are they the dream occupations? No. I won’t be a musician, I’ll never be a photographer. Or actor. Or President. Or basketball player. I’ll write. I’ll be a counselor. Good enough.

Since the age of four all I’ve known is school. School was supposed to prepare me. I feel anything but. I’m supposed to be prepared for the next ten years to complete two goals: marriage and a real job. Problem is for nearly 23 years I’ve barely had a coherent relationship, let alone a job that parallels my strengths. I recognize these being me wasting my own time, but I don’t think I’m the only one.

It’s not like school taught me how to be a good boyfriend or a good counselor. The American school system taught me a bunch of nonsensical information that rallied around subsystems & categories that give no general preparation or real perspective of world culture. It re-taught me bullshit like black history during Black History Month or the Civil War instead of discussing the institutions that continue racism to this day. It re-taught me the Constitution and Bill of Rights instead of teaching me how our political figures impede on these rights yearly.

School was a waste of time. One that just left me with more questions than answers and yet it’s all I know. How do you tell an addict to take himself off something he’s been doing for 19 years? Cold turkey, too?

I had a roommate who did heroin. He tried getting off by quitting completely. He’d sit in bed and sweat all day. He’d sleep all day. He’d have terrible mood swings. Going cold turkey was worse for him than the normalcy of being on heroin.

I can relate. I’ve graduated, but I only feel anxious. I have debt. I have to find a job or go back to school (which could actually end up being a waste of money considering the economy & job market.) I’ve left behind hundreds of people I expect to never see again. This is me at the edge of extremes. This is the reality for a post-grad in this shitty economy.

Maybe I should have prepared better. While many accepted graduation and dove into jobs they’ll be starting in the coming weeks I decided to prolong the process. I’d rather enjoy senior year than look for that job, or take that test to get into grad school. I’d rather drink in excess. It parallels my lengthy cap & gown purchase or my extended application for graduation. Like anyone else, I fear change.

Would any of this have made a difference though? Hundreds of my friends are jobless with no plan. My friend Frank has one of the best resumes on the planet. It’s insane to think he has nothing lined up. Plenty are going to graduate schools because that’s literally all there is to do — more school.

Now I sit here with endless possibilities and no real plan. It’s fucking scary. It’s the post-apocalyptic world. Everything is for survival. I still cling to my youth, knowing that these are potentially the best years of my life. I don’t want to be 35, married and suicidal. I want to be 35, married and knowing I couldn’t have done it any better.

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