How I Got Into Into It. Over It.

It’s wild how an album can grow on you. When you first stream it on your laptop, you don’t really get it; It passes through you. Damn those shitty speakers. But then maybe you give it another try, with headphones, in another headspace, in different mood entirely, at the end of the day when your thoughts seem the loudest. and holy shit. That album can change you; It slowly starts to steep into the fibers of your being and you find riffs and choice selections of words caught up in your daily thoughts.  It starts to embed itself into the soundtrack of your life, you start relating to it in a ridiculous number of ways whether it’s musically, literally, and/or thematically.

This could be any album, for you or for me.  I’ve had these feelings towards albums before but I can’t remember the last time I legitimately felt this way.  Currently, I’m talking about Into It. Over It.‘s ‘Intersections’. The album is stellar. It takes a couple a listens but you finally reach nothing short of an epiphany that Evan Weiss’ is nothing less than a humble genius. He is a brilliant songwriter, musician, performer, and storyteller – So much so that if you don’t look at him with some sort of admiration, respect, and/or envy I’m not sure you’re fully human.

January 2011, I went to the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn with my dad to see another yearly installment of the ‘Where’s the Band?’ tour featuring Chris Conley, Anthony Raneri, Matt Pryor, Ace Enders, and Evan Weiss.  I knew of the former four but not the latter.  He was a mystery.  Watching him open was one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever witnessed in my life.  His singing and lyrics so sincere, that FINGERPICKING, and what tuning was he playing in? Surely that wasn’t Standard E…And it wasn’t.  I’d never seen anything like it. Evan is very well known for using many alternate tunings. And that factor is one of the reasons why I think he stands out so much – He goes beyond the norm. And I like that. He caught my ear and made me a fan for life.

I tell people this doesn’t happen to me often; I don’t usually get blown away by opening acts, in fact I usually come in with very low expectations for the openers as shitty as it sounds. But I think we’ve all been conditioned to feel that way because how many shows have we been to where we’re impatiently drinking our drinks, having run out of things to talk about in between because the opener is taking FOREVER and preventing us from seeing who we really came to see! But when that sort of thing happens – when I am wowed, goosebumped, easily attentive, and feel that static electricity inside my body sparking with excitement I don’t take it lightly.  It’s only happened to me three times before: Once with Evan, once with Kevin Devine, and the other time with Balance and Composure.

That first night in Brooklyn after his set, I awkwardly went up to him at the merch table and bought a CD of his then latest record, Proper.  I then proceeded to half-drunkenly ask him questions about his guitar and the like.  He was the sweetest and answered all my questions with a smile.  I saw him again at a Chuck E. Cheese-esque venue in Montclair three months later where he played to no more than 25 of us as we gathered around and listened to him play, some of us singing along. Six months later, I saw him headline and play full band for the first time at Santos Party House in Manhattan a week before Hurricane Sandy with Hostage Calm, Cheap Girls, and The Front Bottoms.

This past Thursday, I revisited the place where I first discovered him – the Music Hall of Williamsburg – to see him play full band again, this time better than ever. I went to the show by myself, which I’ve never done before…EVER. It was slightly nerve-wracking to travel all the way to Brooklyn via train and subway but I did it. I’m actually pretty proud that I did it. When I finally got on the 12:40 AM train to go home, I put in my headphones and queued up ‘Intersections’ for the ride back.  It was a completely different experience than when I had streamed it on my laptop a few days before.  Something was different. Something had changed.  And I realized, it was me that was different, me who had changed. Maybe it was my tired brain finally relaxing after an exhaustive afternoon of transportation and an evening of the finest rock n’ roll.  Maybe it was the vodka cranberry I had, combined with the comfort of sitting down for one of the first times that night.  Maybe it was the curtained sadness in my heart as I looked up admiringly at the bands I saw that night and reflecting on what I was doing with my life.  ‘Intersections’ quenched my thirst, it opened my eyes, it kept me awake, and my mind racing.  When I saw Evan again on Saturday, I bought the ‘Intersections’ vinyl.

Like anything I say, I can only tell you what I know to be true based off my experience.  If this sort of thing has never happened to you, you may not understand. But to those who this has happened to, you know what I mean.  It’s some sort of calling.  Some sort of affirmation of the life and energy that exists within you.  When a song resonates, you feel it in your soul; that central core in the center of your torso. And you feel the electric sparks spread throughout your body.

Evan is a huge vinyl junkie. And because of that, I think he understands what makes a good record. He doesn’t live in or even associate with the Top40 concept of “singles” or sticking with the mainstream “sound”. All of that’s irrelevant and I think he knows it. And I’m glad he’s a musician who stays true to himself and his talents. His music really reflects his authenticity and as a listener, that’s all I can ever hope to ask for.  Keep it up, Evan.  ‘Intersections’ has unexpectedly found a way into my heart. All your hard work was/is worth it and I will probably support you and your musical endeavors indefinitely.

‘Til next tour –

Meaning vs. Experience

Some days I just want to be content with everything – Be genuinely content with everything and everyone.  But would that be me?  Sometimes I wish it were – just to be so easygoing and positive. Maybe that’s what I subconsciously aim for on a day-to-day basis – to be some likable creature.

I want to be thinner, less insecure, more savvy with everything.  I have this subconscious quest to learn everything, know everything.  I’m not sure if that’s healthy or not.  I’m sure the cons will eventually flare up. But nothing beats a content headspace.

Staying home for the better part of the past four months as been a wonderful blessing.  But as with the equilibrium of all things, there is a darker aspect to the half of the whole.  Once Commencement was over and I cried my eyes out for most of the day, I continued to stay firmly resolute in my heartfelt rejection of society – How it works, how it functions, what it revolves around, the types of people involved.  It broke my heart (and still does) to realize that after all this effort, all this hard work, blood, sweat, tears, and emotional turmoil this what it all comes down to: A job – A foundation for a life, for a type of future I do not foresee myself having because I can’t see past the end of the month, nevermind the next five years.  But throughout these past few months, I think I’ve slowly been coming to peace with it.  Joseph Campbell’s always in the back of my head, telling me to say “yes” to everything – the good and the bad.

So the past few days I’ve been diligently drafting emails and cover letters to send to six different companies.  I know there’s something out there for me.  It’s just my worst fear is to not utilize my fullest potential, to feel like I’m wasting my time, or not being a part of something great.  That’s what I want – I want to move mountains with no bullshit.  I want to mean every word I say and make every action count.  Joseph Campbell says it’s not really the meaning of life we’re looking for at all, rather it’s the experience of life we’re seeking.  And maybe starting now, I’m willing to search for a different experience – One does not require staring at the four walls of my house all day.

Thoughts On Graduate School

The concept of graduate school always makes me heated.  Anytime somebody brings it up in conversation I almost always find myself immersed in a passionate debate.  Despite my own insecure feelings about my own future at times, I think it just ticks me off because so I see so many people wasting their time with it.  Graduate school seems to have become a plan B for those who find themselves on a dead end street; It’s become a failsafe for a twenty-something who finds him/herself stuck in a directionless life.  But why has it become a failsafe? It didn’t always used to be that way.  Welcome to the 21st century, where graduate school has transformed from a place of high, scholarly pursuits to a cop out; A place to waste more time, borrow more loans with high interest rates while falling further into debt, spend three paychecks on books you’ll sell back for 25 cents each, and to sit in a classroom like you’ve been doing your whole goddamn life so you can get another overpriced, shiny piece of paper with a stamp, a seal, and some signatures.  What bullshit.

Now if you are going to grad school for something you love, something you believe in and are passionate about, my little blog post does not not apply to you.  …And if you fully believe in your quest for knowledge for whatever field you’re in, you should know that and know that my words are not speaking to you in the least.  Grad school can be GREAT when you know you’re on your path.  In fact I encourage you to pursue your bliss and reach for the stars!  Enjoy, soak up that knowledge like a sponge, and come out of there as a PRO.

The thing is higher education in general has gone to the dogs.  Probably because it has become the societal norm to attend college.  There are too many people enrolled in colleges and universities who frankly don’t belong there and classroom environments suffer because of it.  Aside from the fact that no one can live on minimum wage, it’s extremely difficult to accomplish anything in life without a college degree…or so we’re told.  The drop out geniuses do show themselves and the fruits of labor every once in awhile (i.e. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, etc).  College can prove to be a great experience but in all honesty, not all minds are wired to march to the beat of the intellectual drum.  Many do not do well within an academic context.  And that’s OKAY.  Or at least it should be.  Yet why does society say otherwise?  Don’t have enough money?  “Here, take out $30,000+ loan per year with 7%+ interest for 4 years.  Don’t worry.  That job you’ll get or that thing you’ll invent while you’re smoking hash in your garage will get you so filthy rich, they’ll be wheelbarrowing your money to your front door.  You’ll pay that off in no time.  You’re a smart kid.”  Don’t have a computer or books?  “Use your loan to pay for it.  Yeah, don’t worry about it.  By the time you have to make payments you’ll be working at some corporate office counting your stacks like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.”  Scholarships?  “What’s that?  Didn’t hear you.” THIS IS THE SYSTEM WE NOW LIVE IN. WHY?  We all know how ridiculous this sounds and I know many have experienced this first hand.  These are things I’ve witnessed are within an undergraduate context; Why on Earth would anyone subject themselves to this again?  We all know that for the most part the jobs aren’t there (unless you’re willing to sell your soul to some ungodly field in pursuit of a dollar), loan debt is a problem and then falls into a catch 22 in the “funemployment” world where you have $0 income, and scholarships (for the most part) are wasted on the dropouts and the ones who don’t care and drink their weight in tequila every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of their 4 year (or 5 year if their a supersenior) college career and end up looking like Mrs. Puff by the time they graduate.

The more I read, the more it appears that in the past college used to be a big deal; It was a way to heighten your intellect, learn, and go back into the world with your knowledge and put it to good use; And maybe if you’re really good, help make the world a better place.  I am ashamed of my generation because college is now an excuse to get away from Mommy and Daddy to obsess over Facebook and your iPhone, excessively drink, and sleep around with anyone who has a pair of legs. It makes me laugh though because all these Mrs. Puff lookalikes passed and got their diplomas just like I did.  At first that bothered me because I worked hard in school.  I always have and I don’t care how nerdy that makes me sound, but it’s true.  But then I reinforced the thought I’ve always had since high school that grades really don’t matter.  GPAs really don’t matter.  It’s what you get out of the experience what counts and that alone shapes who you become as a individual.  It’s what you can take with what you’ve learned and how you’ve learned it and apply it to your future, whether you’re employed or not.  I live in a materialist generation where everyone cares about the wrong things.  I wish I could persuade everyone to disconnect from their devices and put down their credit cards and persuade them to read again, things they’ve always wanted to read, philosophize and think and dream, to talk about art and music that’s not on the radio.  Maybe that’s my utopia or something.  But life’s too short to keep partying like you’re 18.  Life’s too short to keep playing Candy Crush and post Facebook statuses for attention.  Do something, make something, create something, teach yourself something.  Engage in conversation that’s not gossip.  What about Life?  You’re living in right now and you don’t even know it.  Put down the phone and marvel in the world before you have back problems and become bedridden.  Take care of yourself and stop destroying your body so you don’t die later on down the road when you finally decide that life means something to you.  By numbing yourself with technology and bullshit you are committing an act of the slowest suicide.

Graduate school will not fill your void but will only delay the inevitable.  Once you’ve achieved all you possibly can within an academic spectrum, you will realize the worst thing of all – That you have missed Life.  And you will realize all the things you made time for and thought were important only caused you anxiety, frustration, debt, and grey hair.  Then you will slowly fall into yourself and realize you don’t know who you are, who your friends are, what you’re doing here, and the job (if you end up finding one) you swore would provide everything for you and be the answer to all your problems, you will realize that that job is not enough.  And you will be older and feel the weight of time tightening its grip around your throat.

Now more than ever is the time to self-discover, read, and be alone for awhile.  To hell with the system we live in. Let us meditate on ourselves, learn as much as we can (without the burden of papers and tests), and shape the future to display positivity, togetherness, and love.  Those three things unite like no other.  Enough of chasing the broken American Dream that died with Gatsby, enough with ignoring our loved ones, enough with staying inside when the sky is so blue.  Let’s breathe and ask ourselves what our soul is really yearning for.  Let’s not suppress it with empty promises and the hollow shell of graduate school.