You must have had so much fun

Sunrise in the deep playa, Burning Man 2014

I’m back from touring with Against Me!, Burning Man and Shangri-la. I see the awe in people’s eyes as the ask me about my journey. It certainly has been an amazing journey. I am extremely grateful for all that I experienced over the past month. I had never been to Burning Man  before nor had I been on a tour of this caliber.  Very few people will ever have the opportunities bestowed upon me over the past month. They want to live vicariously through me. They want to hear my tales of adventure and triumph. They imagine me having the time of my life. Well I did, but you know what? It’s still just life and as we know… life suck. I think the imagined is probably far more exciting that the reality so in an attempt to be kind I will let you imagine how much fun I must have had.

I will say that life on the road sucks a whole lot less than life at home. I still don’t know about this concept of fun however. I enjoyed virtually every minute of

[I started writing this on September 9th and that is as far as I got before I broke into tears.]

The reality is that being back in Minneapolis has been really painful for me. I’ve spent my whole time back here trying to figure out why. The obvious answer is that I have depression, that I’m mentally ill, that there is something wrong with me. I’m fine with the depression label. I’ve got the t-shirt and I wear it proudly. What I reject is that having depression is somehow a defect. That there is something wrong with me. That I need to be fixed. If it is what I am, then so be it. If anything, it’s a super-power that I just need to learn how to control. There is no need for judgement about it.

Feelings are not wrong. Feeling are guideposts. They help us understand our world. But, feelings can cloud our perception of things. They can become overwhelming and distort our view of reality. They can accentuate each other and create a feedback loop to the point where everything just looks shitty. I’ve been there. I know about how that works and it can cause a whole lot of problems. When our choices are based on a false perception of reality we make some pretty fucked up choices. Nature has a way of correcting this though. In time, after a series of fucked up choices, reality and our perception of reality merge and we no longer feel insane. I think that is the world in which we live in, and it’s kind of fucked up.

Depression is not wrong but this pain which I’m feeling is an indication that something is wrong. And oh boy is there a lot of shit wrong! That is reality! My goal, is to not add to it. One solution would be to do nothing but to my brain, my depression brain, that literally means death. Now I know some pretty spiritually enlightened people who have become fairly good at doing nothing. I just don’t think that that is my path. It sounds awfully selfish to me. I’m not judging. I have no problem with people being selfish in this way. It’s all done in the name of God after all so it’s not really selfish, right?. I just think that we are all God so it looks selfish to me. Also, I kind of like people. If I’m going to serve God I’m going to do it by loving people. If I have to put anything out into the world I want it to be love.

So back to this idea of fun. I have a hard time with this concept of fun. It seems really important to a lot of people but I don’t worry about it that much. I have fun sometimes but it’s never my motivation. I don’t go out trying to have a “good time”. It just kind of happens sometimes. My motivation, first of all is to survive. For me, that means doing something, anything. My intention is for it to be meaningful and purposeful. My intent is to give. I want the fuel which puts a fire under my ass to be love. If along the way I have some fun, if I have a good time… that just a bonus.

So what do I find fun? I guess I can find fun in just about anything if I look for it. Breathing is pretty amazing if you think about it. I don’t need to go on a national tour. I don’t need to go to Burning Man. I don’t need to go to Harmony Park. That said, the most fun experience I had was sitting outside our camp at Burning Man, sipping my morning coffee while three naked women biked by. I’m pretty sure that if I started every day that way I wouldn’t have depression. Unfortunately you don’t see much naked biking  in Minneapolis. As amazing as that was, it still couldn’t compare to the awesomeness of watching the sun peak it’s head over the mountain range at the edge of the playa while sitting atop scaffolding that we weren’t suppose to be on. Some would say that I am wrong for this but I don’t see how that could possible be true.

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Here we come

 
Here we come

 

We are at the half way point in our tour with Against Me! and finally have a day without a 400 mile drive. Okay, from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins, CO wasn’t so bad most days have involved a lot of driving. We are now in Eugene, OR. We arrived last night in time for me to catch my first AA meeting of the tour. I was really looking forward to catching meeting across the country but there really hasn’t been time. This is a major tour and it’s on a majorly tight schedule. I don’t think most people understand how much work this is but it’s the work that I enjoy. The days off are actually pretty disorienting. I don’t know what to do with myself. Luckily, I’m pretty good at navigating when I don’t know which end is up.

I had really thought that I would be doing more blogging while on tour but that hasn’t happened. I think that it might take me a while to fully process all that is going on. Every moment seems more alive and vivid that so called “real life”. Moments seem more intense. Time seems to slow down. One week on tour feels like a month. It’s like living on another planet… and I haven’t ever got to Burning Man yet. I still don’t know what to expect with that.

I feel out of touch with the rest of the world but I’m still trying make updates on Facebook and Twitter. You are welcome to add me, friend me,  follow me there.  And if you happen to be in Eugene, OR, come see Venus de Mars and All The Pretty Horses opening for Against Me! tonight at W.O.W. Hall. Doors at 7pm, we go on promptly at 8.

 

 

 

 

Change is coming

change-roadsignIt’s been a least a couple of weeks since I have posted anything. I actually have a few articles in the works but since I’m having such a hard time getting them finished I thought I should at least stop by to say “hi”.

Today is my 45th day of sobriety. I don’t think there is anything magical about that particular number but today does seem pretty magical. In fact, I’ve had quite a few magical days over the past month and a half. Not all have been great but there have certainly been more good days than bad… and I’ve been busy. I can’t say that I feel like I’ve accomplished a whole lot but I’ve been living life to a fuller extent of “living life the to fullest” than I did when I was drinking. That alone seems pretty amazing to me. What is really amazing are the doors which have opened up before me. Over the next 45 days or so my life will take me places I’ve only dreamed about…

Venus de Mars & All The Pretty Horses Tour supporting Against Me!

  • August 6, 2014    The Aquarium                        Fargo, ND
  • August 7, 2014    Bourbon Theatre                     Lincoln, NE
  • August 8, 2014    Black Sheep                         Colorado Springs, CO
  • August 9, 2014    AGGIE THEATRE                       Fort Collins, CO
  • August 11, 2014   Knitting Factory Concert House      Boise, ID
  • August 12, 2014   Knitting Factory Concert House      Spokane, WA
  • August 14, 2014   Wow Hall                            Eugene, OR
  • August 15, 2014   Ace of Spades                       Sacramento, CA
  • August 16, 2014   The Phoenix Theater                 Petaluma, CA
  • August 17, 2014   Slo Brew                            San Luis Obispo, CA
  • August 19, 2014   The Catalyst                        Santa Cruz, CA
  • August 20, 2014   Strummer's                          Fresno, CA
  • August 22, 2014   Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas             Las Vegas, NV

 

From Las Vegas I will be heading to Black Rock City in the Nevada desert for Burning Man with Hammer and Cyclery. Following that I will be at Harmony Park near Geneva, MN for Shangri-la.

Hopefully I can get at least one of these articles posted before I leave. I’m sure that I’ll be making some updates from the road during the tour so keep in touch.

Albuquerque

Seriously, I don’t know how bands do this, drive all day and then perform. I mean I know I have done it before but it is hell. Sure it would be easier in a tour bus but it’s not like I was driving. There is no way I would want to perform after 11 hours on the road.

Anyway, we made it. We are staying spending the night in Albuquerque with our friend Jules who just bought a new house in Old Town. Not much more to write about so I think it’s time to hop in the hot tub.

Naked in the hot tub

Naked in the hot tub

El Dorado

After 11 hours cramped in a sedan I was feeling like the car should be called Apollo 13 and not  the T.A.R.D.I.S. although with any luck we will make it to our final destination. So far, so good. We pulled into our first stop in El Dorado, KS last night around 10:30 pm. Achy and soar I tumbled out of the capsule where I had been riding shot-gun.

My ass, having sustained injury a couple nights before, expressed great relief to be out of the car, not just from the pain from 11 hours of sitting on a bruised tailbone but also relief from the gas that had been building up inside my colon; held back to avoid poisoning my traveling companions. There is something about road trips, cramped up in a car, eating shitty gas station food that brews up the most toxic concoction. Through much of Iowa you can sneak one out here and there without anyone really noticing against the backdrop of pig farms but I must have been held back gallons because I have been farting all morning.

My legs felt like I had walked the 621 miles to reach our current destination; that kind of pain you feel the next day after a strenuous workout. Still, I was grateful to have arrived, grateful to be out of the car and eagerly awaiting the incredible hospitality always bestowed upon us at the horse ranch of Pete and Liz. Once inside and the car unloaded, Liz prepared the dining room table with soup, cheese, veggies, bread an a variety of beers to choose from. It would have been nice to have socialized more. It would been nice to have written down my thoughts before going to bed but my ability to form sentences had left me. I couldn’t manage to get words from brain to my mouth, let alone my fingers.

It had been a long day. Unable to get any packing done the day before, I arose yesterday at 5:30 am to prepare for the trip. This is usually the way it goes and after many tours over the years it almost seems like second nature.   The only difference this time was that we weren’t taking the van so I needed to be much more concerned to pack as lightly as possible. No matter what, I always feel like I must have forgotten something. So far I haven’t discovered anything nor can I imagine fitting one more thing in my bag. Having left the blustery cold of Minnesota and needing to shed layers of clothes I’m already feeling over-packed.

You would think that traveling across country with a rock band would be one non-stop party; sitting in the back of a tour bus, doing shots of tequila and lines of coke of the bellies of strippers. This has never been my experience. We spend most of our time discussing our failures and strategizing how to keep going in hopes of making it to the next level. This time we couldn’t even do that. This time the discussions took on an even more somber tone. This time there was no talk of the future. This time we were wondering whether the band will even be able to continue.

For the past several months, Venus has been embroiled in an audit from the IRS. This is not your typical audit where they go through all of your books with a fine tooth come looking for deductions that aren’t allowed and income that wasn’t reported. In this case, there would be nothing of that sort to be found.  Venus has been meticulous in running her business and has followed all the rules. In this case the IRS is trying to claim that it’s not a legitimate business because it is not profitable. But Venus’ business is her life, the life of an artist. In essence they are saying that the life of an artist is not legitimate. Unless, I guess, it is profitable but then my question is, if it is profitable, is it still art? I see art as a challenge to conventional wisdom and social expectation. Once art becomes accepted and mainstream it loses it’s ability to expand cultural horizons, it loses it’s ability to transform. The irony is that to be a successful artist is to see your art turned into a commodity.  It reminds me of this quote:

“Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else.”  – Leonardo da Vinci

On the road again

The band is packed in like sardines; three musicians, three guitars, two amps, snare, cymbals and all our personal effects in a ’97 Toyota Corolla. We call it the T.A.R.D.I.S. because it’s bigger on the inside.

Packed in - Jazz

In typical All The Pretty Horses form we left town under snow filled skies  I think we would freak out if it was any other way. Now the sun has come out as we approach the Iowa border.

First gas stop - Jazz & Venus

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