Friday, February 26, 2010

Show Preview: LA Underground Presents: Silian Rail w/ Summer Darling, Powerdove, and Timonium Tonight!

These kids from San Francisco remind me of a mix between Don Caballero and American Football, but with a ton of youthful energy. They have all the chops to be an exciting instrumental band, so I am really looking forward to playing with them tonight at Pehrspace. Judging by some You Tube footage I perused, it's going to be a dynamic show! We play at 10pm, Silian Rail follows us at 10:45pm.

Also performing: Powerdove 9pm Timonium 11:30pm

Pehrspace is located at 325 Glendale Blvd in Echo Park just past Pho Siam in a small strip mall. Shows are all ages, BYOB, with a 5 dollar cover. Hope to see you there!!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

When Should You Rename Your Band?

I read an interesting article in this week's print issue of Brand X. For those who don't know what that is, it's the weekly culture mag that used to be Metromix until LA Times took it over and re-branded it, pun intended. Anywho, the article focused on local band The Afternoons and their decision to rename themselves Shadow Shadow Shade after discovering a Welsh band also called The Afternoons.

A couple years back, Summer Darling began receiving Myspace friend requests with odd messages attached saying they had heard us on NPR. To my knowledge, we had never been on NPR at that point, so I did some investigating and found out there was another band from California called The Summer Darlings. I wrote them an email to figure out what their intentions were. According to their response, The Summer Darlings are a transgender folk project that rarely plays shows and have little to no interest in being widely recognized on the national stage. I checked them out, they seemed legit in their claim, so I agreed with them to live and let live.

However, Steve Scott of the Afternoons/Shadow Shadow Shade brings up a good point in the article. The internet has made every band more than a national band; it's made us all international. So with the plethora of bands out there, some of whom are bound to share the same name, when do you decide it's time to change it? The Afternoons changed it because of conflicting Google search results. I decided to put this to the test today. I started with Myspace searches. If you search for Summer Darling, we are the only band that comes up, but if you search for The Summer Darlings, then they are the only band that comes up.

So I did a Google search. If you search Summer Darling on Google every hit with the exception of one that comes up is related to us. The one exception is this broad's Myspace page whose name appears to actually be Summer Darling. So I'm satisfied that we didn't change our name or make too huge a stink about The Summer Darlings. However Shadow Shadow Shade have a very valid point, too. The Welsh Afternoons must be on a similar trajectory to success as the US Afternoons, making it an even bigger imperative that someone needed to change. Two bands with the exact same name inherently causes confusion.

Heather's other band Kissing Cousins shares their name with a turntable downtempo dude named Chris from Ohio and a bluegrass 2 step group from England, so I did the Google search test with them. The results were far more mixed. Apparently there's a movie coming out called Kissing Cousins, plus a variety of wikipedia entries on cousins hooking up, a medical journal that says third cousins have the best likelihood of conception and fertility, and a number of image results with people with seventies hair doos kissing. Apparently the 1970s were the golden era of hooking up with your cousin. But the only band Kissing Cousins that came up was Heather's, and they came up second right behind the film.

I figured this confusion was due more to the nature of the words in the band name than the actual band name itself. So just for shits and giggles, I googled the band Spoon. I assumed with such a mundane one word name the results would be scattered as all hell. Nope. They were the only thing that came up!!! I'm not sure what all this quasi research means, other than to say that now more than ever, the uniqueness of your band name matters. Unless you're called Spoon.

You can Catch Shadow Shadow Shade at the Echo on Friday March 5th.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Something Out Of Everything

I was speaking to someone recently about music. This person isn't a musician and they couldn't get their head around how a song takes shape. To them, writing a song was building something out of nothing. I tried to explain to them that it wasn't building something out of nothing. First of all, the something that inspires music is all around us, from our day to day experiences to the hundred million songs we've already heard in our lifetime. All of these things are the sparks that ignite the creative flame, the molecules that collide to cause the big bang of songwriting.

Second, sound is infinite. That's a theory that I heard once that I really liked. I don't know if it's true, and frankly, I don't care all that much. The theory goes that once a note is played, two divergent things happen. The sound vibration that we are hearing never disappears, much like the idea that energy is never created nor destroyed; the sound merely diminishes at an exponential rate infinitely. The other thing that happens is that a sound once made morphs into something new; the metaphysical thing that cannot be scientifically expressed. The sound becomes an idea that is reinterpreted by the ear that hears it.

Lastly, I read somewhere that the smallest known sub atomic particle looks like a sound wave, meaning that at the very core of everything is sound, or the evidence that sound was once there. I told me friend that it can be more accurately said that they couldn't understand how musicians build something out of everything. I was reminded of this conversation because last night Dan and I had a writing session at his place in Long Beach that didn't yield any specific results (i.e. no song was born). It made me smile when I thought that sometimes building something out of everything can be just as impossible as building something out of nothing.

You can catch us playing shit we've already built this Friday night at Pehrspace, 10pm. The show is All Ages and BYOB. Hope to see you all there!

Monday, February 22, 2010

How Will History Remember?

Last night, Heather and I had a moving conversation with a couple who invited us over to dinner. Let it be known, first of all, that dining at someone's home, being a guest in their domain and sharing a meal, to me is the most sacred and special thing. The early church used to meet in homes and communion was a meal shared by the members. In the same way is having dinner with friends, sharing stories and opinions. Heather was funny last night to point out that when someone says something I don't agree with, I always respond, "You're more than welcome that have that opinion, but.." which roughly translates, "Your opinion is wrong." I thought that was funny.

I digress. The subject of New York came up and somehow we started talking about September 11th, 2001. The couple both were in Manhattan at the time the planes hit and the towers came down. They related fascinating and heartbreaking stories of that day and the days to come, the ghosts covered in ash streaming uptown from Wall Street, the volleys of phone calls between circles of friends to make sure everyone was alright, walking from pay phone to pay phone and realizing not a single one works anymore upon discovering you left your cell phone at work, smelling the stench of burnt rubber and metal Thursday night as the entire city flocked to downtown bars in a show of solidarity, taking a cab down a deserted fifth avenue and watching a line of police mopeds emerge from the smoke gray with soot, the empty triage centers set up outside the perimeter, waiting to treat survivors that never came.

They were moving first hand accounts and I am so proud to have heard them. It got me thinking about history and how we recount past events. Earlier in the weekend I had watched the movie Hurt Locker and while its suspense thrilled and entertained, it left me feeling empty and sad, knowing this film is many peoples' reality, and will the history books ever really be able to relate that to future generations? I suppose it's always been this way. Growing up, reading about the Civil War or WWI or WWII, my history classes never gave me the sense of what it was actually like to experience those times and there was never any sense that there were lessons to be learned from these powerful events. Was that for my protection? Or is it because wars turn into dead history lifeless on a page, transformed into information to memorize that dooms us to keep repeating them?

Which finally lead me to the importance of art and interaction. I hope that we can continue to produce art in a fashion that promotes dialogue about the past and continue to hold events like 9/11 in a national consciousness that doesn't use such memories as buzz words for a political ideology and or a manipulative emotional transgression. There was so much beauty in our friends' recounting of those days, and so many life affirming, human moments that may have been forgotten if we hadn't chosen to allow ourselves to discuss them that it makes me sad for those of us who treat subjects like war as taboo.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Money Money Money Mah-nee!

We played a game last night at Gingergrass where we listed off some songs we never wanted to hear again for the rest of our life. One of the ones we thought of was this money song, but we couldn't think of who it was by. No, not Pink Floyd, that song kicks ass. Was it ABBA?? Who knows. Anyway, it got me thinking about money and the value of it and the value of things that can't be weighed out monetarily.

For example, according to my business taxes, my bands spent 11,000$ in 2009. We made just under 5,500$. That would seem like a business in need of a new model. However, how do I appraise the dozens of shows we got to play up and down the west coast? How much is the feeling of holding a 180 gram vinyl of your band in your hand for the first time worth? How about drinking beers in a hotel room after a successful show? The memories created by that god awful drive between Palm Springs and Phoenix? The countless hours spent recording and rehearsing at our studio? My point is that my experiences in 2009 were way more valuable than my taxes say they were. Sure, I'd love for the money part to match up, too. But until then, I'm excited to lose my shirt again in 2010 for the sake of rock and roll!

I apologize in advance to Nick, my accountant.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Recording Update: V Scully

S Foye and I had our official first practice for our Vicious Scully project last week. It went way better than I was anticipating, especially taking into account that S Foye and I have to basically relearn the parts to every song we wrote. In fact, that's the one major challenge of doing a project this way. Every other recording I've been a part of there was a band first, then a recording. The songs were already written before someone toggled the space bar.

But it was a blast going back to songs we wrote three, four months ago, and figuring out the parts. Sometimes, I found them a lot easier than I remembered, and at other times, S Foye and I cursed our former selves for making us do these finger gymnastics all over the fret boards of our instruments. Another challenge has been tuning. We didn't think to write down the tuning of each song, which would have been nice, as it seems each song is in some alternate tuning. Damn us!

As for the recording, we're proud to say it is 98% finished and S Foye has already begun mixing. We're really looking forward to sharing it with all of you, hopefully in the form of a grand ole listening party sometime in the next few months. Scully fans, stay tuned! In the meantime, you can catch the real V Scully as he broadcasts every Dodgers game this season. Spring training has already begun for pitchers and catchers! Life is about to have meaning again!!! Viva Los Doyers!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Music Tuesday: Liturgy

Woke up so sick today! With all the mucus in my throat and lungs, I could probably sing like the dude from this band called Liturgy. My buddy Stentzie got me into them. It's next level shit for me, because, under normal circumstances, I would never listen to black metal. But something is different about this band. The guitars are all about soaring anthemic melody, rather than bone crunching riff-a-tude, so common to the genre. Also, the way in which the vocals are mixed allow for the melody to take center stage. This song is called "Pagan Dawn" and it's a wild, exhilarating ride.

Monday, February 15, 2010

No More Words

I was on-top-of-the-world-drunk last night. It's a great place to be; feeling socially invincible and just so so happy. For as great as I felt then, I felt the most profound sadness of my entire 30 years on this planet Saturday afternoon at Jon Glyer's memorial service. After an hour of it, I remember begging God and everything that's holy on this rock spinning through space to please let it end. If that makes me a bad person, than so be it; I just couldn't take anymore emotion. I cried harder and longer in those two hours than ever before in my life.

Shamefully, perhaps, on my part, I wasn't crying so much for Jon as I was for myself and those around me. There were so many heavy things said by his friends and family, so many life changing moments shared, so many avenues for my mind to travel down, all of which ended in heart break. I was broken hearted when I got dumped by my high school sweet heart, but that was a different kind. That one healed. The broken heart I experienced on Saturday is all encompassing, a drop of poison in my well. The more I think about anything, the sadder I am becoming.

What is this life? Am I to be a slave to my emotions forever? I don't know the answer to that question anymore than the other terrifying questions Jon's death has resurfaced inside me. On our drive back from the service, Heather and I were alternately holding hands and wiping residual tears from our sun bleached eyes, and "Let It Be" came on the radio. Now contrary to popular belief, Heather and I are not prone to singing aloud in the car. But in that moment, a moment where I couldn't take any more questions, and as cheesy as I knew it was, we belted along with ol' Paul, "There will be an answer, let it be."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Summer Darling Are Chickens In Love: Giving In An Age of Uncertainty

Haiti taught me something about giving. I used to believe that people didn't give more to charitable organizations because of their hesitance of losing the actual money. I've definitely experienced that feeling after giving to a charity--am I going to have enough money this month for my expenses? It's certainly a challenge when it comes to giving, but after what I've witnessed in regards to Haiti, where millions of people have given to this cause and felt good and justified, I've had to rethink my reasoning. Perhaps people's aversion to giving is more than the money thing. Could it be as simple as a matter of convenience? With Haiti, giving became more accessible and easier than ever. Of course there were the scams to avoid, but it was the first time I'd heard of texting a number from your phone as a way to pledge a little cash. That's awesome.

Here's my point. We in Summer Darling are asking folks to pledge a little cash again for an equally worthy cause: 826LA's annual fundraiser. What is 826LA? It's an Echo Park based non-profit that provides kids 6-18 years old with tutorial, college prep, and arts education. We've witnessed their programs first hand, as Heather, along with our good friends Sean Stentz from Nico Stai, Eli from the Monolators and Ken from Hexham Heads, volunteered to help with their current project: helping kids write songs! These programs are especially important now as the Arts are under attack in todays public school system. 826LA is a place kids can not only receive free tutorial services to help them achieve academically, it also is a place that encourages kids to be creative, which is an invaluable skill to take into the real world. I don't have to remind you that the most successful people I know are highly creative, even if their chosen area of expertise isn't immediately "creative."

How can I help, you say? Easy. We recorded a jam whose lyrics were written by Sara, 12, ben, 10, and Natalie, 9. It's called "Mexican Food" and it totally kicks ass. 826LA has set up a site where you can vote for which kids song you think is the best by pledging a little cash. (We're pretty sure its ours, but there are a lot other great acts involved like Cold War Kids, Happy Hollows, Crystal Antlers, and Fiona Apple, to name a few.) As a sign of good faith we'll be posting our track on our Facebook/Myspace pages so you can check it out. If you're into it, make sure you hop on line and pledge some cash to a great cause. VOTE/PLEDGE HERE.

Now I know it's not as easy as a simple text message, but a couple of clicks should be a close second. We hope to raise a ton of money for this important organization. The voting/pledge drive culminates in a day long mini music fest at the Echoplex, Saturday March 6th. The line up is still being confirmed, but we'll definitely be there, so you should be too.

If you're prone to follow shit on twitter, here's some other informational stuff:
#chickensinlove twitter contest. each day the best CiL related tweet wins a CD from @epttm! Bawk 'n roll! #826LA


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fan Spotlight: Chris K, Welcome To The Jungle

I figured it was time to shed some light on some of the people that make playing music totally worth while. We're starting with a man who is not only my friend, he's also my driver on special occasions, my drinking buddy on other special occasions, and an all around man of the people. Faithful readership, meet Chris K.

CLA: I'm obsessed with you. Luckily, you're everywhere I go these days. What the hell is going on?

Chris K: Its actually no coincidence that I've been around so much lately. I've put in some self reflection time lately and come to be more appreciative of how fortunate I am to have such a great group of friends who I simply don't see enough. And with all the opportunities lately its been awesome to be around you and the old gang so much. In fact, I've been in your hood more in the past 2 weeks than I have in the prior 12 months! Its been awesome!

CLA: Aside from going to every show on earth, how else do you occupy your time?

Chris K: Well right now I'm eating tacos at a bar (at the bar to be more specific), listening to "Welcome to the Jungle" and watching TMZ with subtitles. some miami flavored dude is talking about gluteal implants. For real. Have you heard of this crap? "Hey 'member jennifer from algebra class? Dude I totally Ya ran into her at the social venue the other night! Really, how'd she look? Oh killer bro, she totally got a poop job!" So, in answer to your question, you know, stuff like that. And hanging with H of course.

CLA: It's 9pm. You've been working all day, and it was a doozy. Tell me what you pour yourself to drink and what you either put on to listen to or watch on TV.

Chris K: Crap. Is it 9 already? Ok now that work's done I need to work on some designs for furniture I hope to build this weekend. I could use some Jack on the rocks. Keep the mind limber and all. By this time at night I need something that doesn't have to be loud to be good. Last night it was Herbie Hancock. Mornings are for loud. I've started waking up to "Welcome to the Jungle" (I feel a theme developing) to get me going. If you were walking by on Broadway and heard my morning music you'd prob not know I was getting pumped to sit in an office alone for the next 6-12 hours.

CLA: This question is back by popular demand. I've found having a blog liberating, as it is a soapbox to sway the masses. Rant about one thing or person in your life, without getting too specific. Trust me, it feels Ah-mazing.

Chris K: This one is coming. Lots of drama lately. Gotta be careful how ranty I get :)

CLA: How's H doing? Send us the pic of him lounging in the ultra sweet recliner.

Chris K: H is the raddest! Funny you mentioned obsession earlier. Last time someone was obsessed with me they threatened Mr Hamilton (time before that the obsessor threatened to withhold my drycleaning but that's a story for next year's issue). And as you know, H might be considered by some to be a timid dude. But he's taken to a few of my lady friends (we're just friends no matter what heather says!) so I guess he's getting better! Much like college Chris I'm sure once he finds some hot bitch to cuddle with he'll get some confidence. And unfortunately that wasn't H in the eames lounge but here's one of him in my lounger. He makes me a better person. H is a good man. He's a good man.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sometimes You Don't Get What You Wait For

Ah, patience. It's been the overriding principle I've been trying to learn for, shit, man, feels like forever. I want to have patience right now, damnit. Turns out it's something you have to build. Like a taste for moldy cheese, a tongue for hot sauce, a stomach for gut burning scotch. I've been waiting on something for going on seven years now, and it looks like I'll be waiting a bit longer. But I can do it. I'm a patient man. It helps me to enjoy the moments of waiting. I took a run in the rain today. That was nice. In a second here I'm gonna close up shop and work on a song. Today feels like a song writing day. Maybe I'll post what comes out tomorrow?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sunday Bloody Sunday: Surfers and Footballers

Yes, I watched the Super Bowl this year for the first time in recent memory. It was quite fun actually. I was at a party where no one knew a damn thing about football; everyone was just enjoying the company and then occasionally, when the crowd would start cheering really loud, we'd all quiet down, rewind the Tivo a few seconds and catch what happened. I spend half time with my friend Matt setting up this American P Bass that we're using in the Past Haunts and Summer Darling so I missed most of the Who's underwhelming performance.

I suppose my only what-the-fuck? moment came today when I logged on to Myspace and there was this add saying, "Don't be out of the loop. You can watch all of the Super Bowl Commercials right here on Myspace." Are you kidding me? Is that what people are truly interested in, the fucking commercials? Thursday I got coffee at this local coffee shop and they had a sign right above the cash register that had an American Flag on it and big patriotic looking letters underneath that read "United We Spend." It made me laugh, but now I feel a little sick because as nuvo-marxist kitchy as that sign is, it's also true. If the best thing about a sporting event in which the heavily favored team loses to the underdog of all underdogs, whose win symbolizes the rebirth and resurgence of a city decimated by nature and forgotten by the rest of it's country, is the commercials, then we live in a land of fucked priorities. Shame on us.

I know the above paragraph slightly romanticizes both sides of the issue, so to help you have a good week, why don't you listen to this jam I've been enjoying lately. It's called "Swim" by a band called Surfer Blood. Trust me, you'll feel better. You may even want to go out a buy something...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Mexican Food: It's All We Want (Unless There's Todd's Muffins)

In Summer Darling related news, we all got to be in the same room last night for the first time since getting our tattoos. LA Underground stopped by and filmed our rehearsal for an upcoming post. Todd brought blueberry ricotta muffins to celebrate the fact that we are finished with the new Summer Darling full length record that we have been working on for the last year! We are so proud of it and can't wait to share it with the world!!

We'll be leaking a song from it in a little while along with other juicy tid-bits like mixing and recording diaries, artwork, and lyrics, so stay tuned. 2010 is the year of the Darling!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Interview with Hexham Heads

Name changes are a dubious thing. There are arguments to be made on both sides of the issue, especially for an established band. I've had a long time love-hate relationship with my band's name, and ultimately decided to keep it due to the gigantic hassle it would create. I mean, Radiohead is a dumb band name, albeit better than there first name, On A Friday, and it didn't slow them down any. But when I heard Shiloe was changing their name to the (way more bad ass) name Hexham Heads, I had to get the inside scoop. I got ahold of Ken and Melissa, formerly of Shiloe, and here's our conversation.

1. Obviously something has changed. Shiloe is now Hexham Heads. Walk me through your thought process. What was the impetus of this change and what does it symbolize for the future of your musical projects?

Melissa - Basically, we were just never that crazy about the name Shiloe. It never had any special meaning or a cool story behind it; it was just the best of the names we came up with back when the band first started playing shows. Everything else associated with the word is kind of tame (i.e., Brangelina's baby, the Neil Diamond song, the puppy books/movies, the Civil War battlefield) and we never felt like it was very indicative of our sound. When we both happened upon the story of the Hexham Heads, it seemed like it was a much better fit for the band. Also, the name Shiloe never inspired any particularly cool band logos, whereas the logo we have now for Hexham Heads is completely awesome. (Thanks to our friend Iona Lie for masterminding the logo!)

2. I heard a rumor you got the name from a ghost hunting book. Can you share a little insight into the context?

Melissa - This rad chick I know who plays the flute - her name is Kara, you may have met her? - gave me a book called 'An Illustrated History of the Haunted World' for my birthday. This book contained the story of the Hexham Heads, which are two ancient stone carvings of dubious origin which appear to have a werewolf that watches over them. While reading this story, I thought to myself, "Holy shit, now there's a band name." Later, Ken was flipping through the book, and said, "Should we change the band name to Hexham Heads?" It was a true mind meld, and HxH was born.

3. How important do you feel it is these days to present a unified aesthetic as a band?

Ken - I think the aesthetic is part of the experience. Think of the original Wolf Man movie with all the fog rolling around everywhere, it make it seem so much more mysterious. If the same movie took place on a sunny afternoon it just wouldn't be the same! The Beatles all dressed like they were in Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club band when that album came out and it makes it seem like a whole other world. I like all that, I like Jack White's color schemes for his bands and how BRMC looks like a gang

Melissa - I think we're learning that it's extremely important. People like to say that the music industry is dead. In my opinion, the music industry isn't dead at all - the labels are just selling the wrong things. If you have great songs and a compelling live show and you look a certain way, people will respond. Growing up in the 90s, I think a lot of us made the mistake of thinking that "image didn't matter" because of bands like Nirvana and the Pixies. The truth is that those bands had an image - an anti-image - and it was a very deliberate response to the butt-rock bands that were dominating the charts at that time. It's not like Kurt Cobain didn't put any thought into what he wore or the cover art he chose for his albums; on the contrary, he made very distinct choices, they were just choices that weren't in line with the mainstream musical standard. We want everything we create, from our songs to our merch to what we wear on stage, to reflect our interests and the general feel of the band.

4. Is there any Hexham Heads recording plans? We want a full length already damn it.

Melissa - Ken has so many new songs, but we still have to get together as a band and perfect them. A full-length is in the works, but we're not in any rush. We're taking our time. I think our main focus right now is on getting the name out there and playing some shows as Hexham Heads.

Ken - We're also still debating how to release.

5. Lastly, let's set the record straight. Is Melissa a Rush fan?

Melissa - Honestly, I have nothing for or against Rush either way! The only Rush song I can even identify is "Tom Sawyer," and I always fuck up the lyrics. "What you think about sobriety is what you think about society" - that's not actually in the song, is it? This is just a bad joke gone terribly awry. Ken likes to tell people I listen to Rush because it's like the big bass player cliche to worship at the alter of Geddy Lee. I don't, man. My bass heroes are the Kims (Deal and Gordon) and Simon Gallup of the Cure!

Hexham Heads perform this Friday, February 5th at Spaceland. 10pm.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Mystery of Mastering Part 2

I'm back at Engine Room Studios with S Foye, Neil, and Christian, our faithful mastering engineer, after our aborted attempt at mastering the record last week. S Foye and Christian got together last Thursday and devised a way to pull the kick up in certain parts of certain songs without compromising the integrity of the overall mix.

The results have been stunning. We just finished "This Would Be The Time," the album opener, and the four of us just sat gape-mouthed at how huge it sounds. Christian gave S Foye high praise for his mixes because the EQ is so consistent from song to song. Its the same compliment Jason Martin, who mastered our last EP, gave him. We're very honored and blessed to work with such an attentive producer and mixer.

We're also honored and blessed by the show Christian is putting on in his mastering suite. It's like the fucking Magic Castle in here. He's chosen a very aggressive approach to this master that accentuates the more angular parts of the songs without overpowering the slower moments. We've spent the better part of the last 45 minutes on "My Reminder," a song that encompasses both the heaviest part of the record and the quietest. I'm getting really excited to show this to the world!

Monday, February 1, 2010

On Fear and Death: Tattoos and Jon Glyer

What a weekend! For those who don't already know this about me, I struggle with anxiety and a number of phobias. One of those phobias was finally put to rest Saturday afternoon. With my whole band, plus Chris and Nada, around me, I got my first tattoo. It was a special and terrifying moment, knowing that Heather, Dan, and Todd would be sitting in this same chair getting this same tattoo after me, feeling the bite of the needle, the blood rush to the head. I did ok even though that above picture would tell you otherwise. Once Eric at Gold Rush Tattoo began etching the design done by Suzanne Walsh into my skin and I knew what the pain was and how to define it and how to separate myself from it, my fear of tattoos melted away.

I realized that what I fear most, where most of my anxiety lies, is in the unknown. The minute I can comprehend something, categorize it, take it apart and reassemble it, it becomes the thing it always was before I experienced it. Which leads me to my greatest fear: death. Jon Glyer, my brother's best friend, and a long time family friend of mine, died tragically Friday. It really fucked me up, having to deal with my greatest anxieties and confront them. I am reminded of a lyric from "Fight Test" by Flaming Lips: "But I'm a man, not a boy and there are things you can't avoid. You have to face them, when you're not prepared to face them." That's what growing is, that's what changing is. Facing the things that terrify me and try to conquer them. In the case of a tattoo, I no longer have that fear. It dissipated with the pain into a dull ache I can recall whenever I want to like the memory of bad sunburn or bee sting.

As for death, there's not getting around that one. There's no understanding it. Once it happens to you, there's no more need to understand it. I realized that I have to be ok with not understanding it. In the same way that I've had to allow for the possibility that there is no God, I have to be ok with the unknown parts of this life and not let them rule me. I was losing sleep for two days, freaking out over something so trivial as a tattoo. That's irrational and stupid of me and keeps me from enjoying the here and now. Death is such a greater abyss of uncertainty and if I don't start accepting it, then I can't imagine what a wreck I'll be when my time comes. For now, I am so thankful for every moment I get to live this beautiful terrible transcendent thing called life.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Sarah, Jon's widow, and his parents, Nancy and Paul. You are all truly special people to me and Heather and Jon will be sorrowfully missed.