That is the question that seems to plague all mankind the world over. And so far the best anyone has ever put forth on the subject was conveyed by Monty Python with their movie bearing that title. But I think I finally figured it out just a few years ago with some sense of clarity. Its really a simple concept unto itself, it’s just the application that is very complicated and demanding. Allow me to explain what The Meaning Of Life, or MY LIFE at least, means to me.
Lets start off with just saying I am almost 47 years old(I know, scares me too!), but the big bang of my universe came to me when I was around 12. Before that there was void, random elements just kind of floating in space for lack of a better expression. That was when I got my hands on the RUSH album Hemispheres, and my whole world changed. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I became aware of the most powerful force throughout the history of mankind, the universal truth…music. It predates language, fire, indoor plumbing, so on and so forth. It was then that almost all of my waking hours for the rest of my life, music was the focus of my attention. Now obviously, there is a lot of history I could go over here, but I think I’ll save all that for future compositions. Otherwise this blog could stretch longer than the Black Friday retail lines. So we’re going to jump ahead about 3 decades.
I think I moved here around 7-8 years ago, from my home of 39 years, the cradle of my existence North Jersey. Suffice to say at that point I had pretty much train wrecked my life for the most part. All my reindeer games had caught up to me, and I had really hit bottom for a number of typical reasons I wont go into here as well. But I was out of options, I had to suck it up and admit I had grounded out, and humbly ask to squat in my Moms basement. I had nothing and nowhere to go, nothing to do, no plans, no dreams, and a backpack of problems to bring with me. It was time to start all over from scratch and try to rebuild, or re-invent myself for my own good. And to makes things worse, just as I started to make my way here, the entire economy dropped like a rock in a pond. Not an easy time to do all this I figure.
But there has always been one constant, one prevalent factor that still glowed in my shell, music. Somehow I still managed to keep at least one foot in the water so to speak. I still shot bands for a while here and there, still kept my relationship with my home publication The Aquarian, and of course…listened to a lot of music.I was also very lucky to make my first friends here at The Main Street Jukebox, and Dreamland Creations. The definitive hub of all that is music there at the time in Stroudsburg. Dreamland was a very musical atmosphere to hang out and work in. I shared and experienced a wide variety of music with owner Myke Maldonado, Artist Sherley Escribano, and in the years to come Artist RenDi Young there. The Jukebox Owner Tom LeFevre and crew, Laura Bee, Steve McDaniel, Charlie, Joe, and a rotating cast of special guest stars I see on a day to day basis there, quickly became core base of my life here. And for that my gratitude knows no bounds.
I was lost, I had absolutely no idea what the hell I should do in this next stage of my life. I drifted though a few jobs over the 1st few years, nothing was clicking. And then a small light started to glow. With the advancement in technology, I started to experiment with recording podcasts with my de facto brother from NJ Wes Ehnert, about the one thing I truly know…music. That led to my foray into online radio, at PIBCO for the next almost 4 years. I finally felt like I was actually onto something. And I was! It came utterly natural to me. I would routinely turn a 3hr show into 5-6 hours of broadcasting live online every Friday night. No scripts, no playlists, just winging it more often than not. And for the record, missing in that run maybe half a dozen shows, usually for the occasional CLUTCH show. I loved it, I lived for it. While muddling through several half assed jobs during that time, even my whole work day my mind would mostly be on, “what can I do for MY SHOW this week?” And this the way it was for a while, but even that had to change.
Something I didnt mention earlier, that bears mentioning now is one of the things I cherished most growing up. Don Kirshners Rock Concert is one, Midnight Special, In Concert, and other live musical performances on TV such as Saturday Night Live. Nothing beats having a band play live, and it was free to all who had TV in that day.
I lived for those shows, as the focus was pretty much purely on the bands representing themselves in the most honest medium, live on the stage. No net, no rebates, no do overs or backtracks. The way ROCK ought to be! That seemed to have gotten lost along the way, even the most popular ROCK show on TV now, really has very little to do with the very point of being in a band in my opinion. Playing Live. And that embryo of thought had been conceived in my mental womb and was starting to gestate, slowly and progressively. One of those back of the mind dreams that routinely gets shuffled and shelved amongst the everyday blather of stuff to do. And then something happened, something started to feed the fetus and it began to grow.
That was reuniting with a long time ago fellow band crew member Dave Reiser. Who it turned out was running a studio not far from here in Easton. He came in to MY SHOW one night, and it was there that I must have mentioned the idea for a live ROCK video show. He was the guy who could do it, and he wanted to. Again my life changed.
And so we shot our 1st episode with The Atomic Bitchwax almost 2 years ago now. The we brought in my friends Kingsnake from Philly, and things started to take a little shape. As this was beginning too build, I had been working on and off(mostly off). Desperate for any work, I wound up approaching the only other thing I know, stage/loader work at The Sherman Theater. They let me work a few shows, and gradually I became part of the staff crew there. Not without almost killing myself first. Atrophy had set in over the hard years to say the least. To that I thank my fellow crew guys for picking up my slack on nights when my body would just give out, literally. In time I would slowly acclimate to the demands of major stage and rigging operation, I am amazed I survived to be honest.
Needless to say in the entertainment business, work ebbs and flows. Sometimes the hours are sparse, and then you have months like this October, where we had some 16-17 shows in one month. Plus the day to day upkeep and various concerns that a large theater built in the 1920′s or 30′s can require. I came to a crossroad of sorts. Do I look for another job that will no doubt help me earn more money, and obviously affect my role at the Theater? But here I have everything I need as far as access and resources to make MY SHOW Live a reality. Do I side step that to live a little easier, get another job I will ultimately hate and find a way to get fired, quit, etc because the only thing on my mind is music? The same pattern I have repeated since the mid 1980′s. Or do I embrace the fact that this is where I belong, and I have to find a way to make it work.
I love doing what I do. I love being around bands, I love talking about bands and music, I love meeting different musicians and crew members, and sharing experiences. I know our crew certainly gets a kick out of my vast supply of storied experiences heh. I have rarely felt more of a sense of accomplishment than having a national act crew member shake my hand at 2-3 in the morning, and say thanks, you guys are great here, we loved working with you guys. The only thing that tops it is when I finish producing an episode, and it dawns on me that I did it. I have somewhat taken the torch that Kirshner and the others left for me, and I am carrying it forward to light up the night with great music and conversation. I have 2 more episodes under my belt, the local ensemble of brilliance from Ajax Rasputin’s Leviathan Variety Show(featuring Lenny Kaye-Patti Smith Group) and one of my first gigs with my new band King Dead(well, new for me). Oh yeah, I’m back to playing drums again, after a Rip Van Winkle like absence. I think a new embryo has started to develop there as well, as we are already recording stuff to hopefully be released soon. I have the next episode of MY SHOW Live currently in production, with The Stargazed Lilies. A band that has to be seen and heard to be believed, and you will see and hear them on MY SHOW soon!
So here I am, Thanksgiving 2013, writing my 1st blog ever. Ive written hundreds of articles over the years but that’s a bit different. SO I am very thankful to know The Meaning Of Life now, for me anyway. I work in music, I work at a great venue, with a great staff. I have my own growing video ROCK show, I do online radio when I want to and about whatever I want, I am making music again and re-learning to play drums again. Here’s a perfect example of how great my life can be at times, I can talk to the drummer I most look up to since I started listening to RUSH 35 years ago, who Ive worked professionally with for years as a photog/writer, I can call him my friend, and I get to set up his gear at our house next month and work for him in a way again.
I may be broke more or less, but I am a very rich man that just earning money couldn’t achieve in my life. I work in music…the most powerful force in human history.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!