Details

The corner of her jeans pocket was frayed and worn from the pocket clip on the pen she kept there constantly sliding on and off. Always writing. Never without her pen. You could find her every day at any one of the several coffee shops she shuffled between. Buying coffee, watching people, taking notes, taking up space for as long as friendly society would allow and then off the the next shop to do it all over again. She blended in. Anyone who saw her probably didn’t remember or assumed she was just another writer working on her script. That’s what I thought the first time I realized I’d seen her several times without realizing it. Then I started watching her and saw that couldn’t have been any further from the truth. She wasn’t looking for ideas, she was documenting the customers. Building out detailed profiles on specific people. She had different pages for each person and would add to the page every time she saw them. Were they wearing different shoes? What band and color. Did they have a bag? Did it have a laptop? What kind of phone were they thumbing, and what apps had their attention. Were they alone or with company. She knew things about these people they probably didn’t realize, and all of this without any technology to support her. No wide reaching hack or surveillance system. She just watched and took notes.

Innocent enough I supposed until I followed her one day. Her long day of coffee shop bouncing ended in the back parking lot of a church downtown. She, and apparently several other people with similar notebooks. They go there and hand the notebooks to a guy who photographs every page. Every day.

Hungry Rats

Danarchy we called him – he told us to call him. He was missing the the top half of his left index finger. It made it so when he flashed the rock/devil/horns with that hand his pinky and index finger were exactly the same height. He considered this a perk. His finger had been chopped off just below the nail by some event known only to him. You could ask him what happened, and he’d be happy to tell you – problem is every time he’d tell the story it was completely different. A rat bit it off in his sleep one night, a shop instructor made an example out of him, a friend started a car while he was reaching into the engine to dislodge something, your girlfriend’s pussy was too tight and snapped it right off. Without ever meeting the guy you could just make something up and you’d have as good an idea as any of us who knew him for years. The finger was the most obvious, but now that I think about it pretty much the same thing applied to everything else about him too.

The revolution must be marketed

Marco Stevenson is responsible for pretty much every terrorist logo you’ve seen in the last 30 years. When it comes down to it, there’s just no one better at branding oppressive revolutions. The iconic crossed AKs? His idea. Solid black fields on flags? All him. Put it this way, if you want a fist of a pair of swords as part of your identity you’d be an amateur to consider talking to anyone else.  He’s the best, and he knows it so don’t expect anything but top shelf prices. But really, what else are you going to do? You can’t half ass the public face of a terrorist organization, and the logo is the thing everyone will be expected, if not forced, to rally around. If it looks like crap that’s going to be a hard(er) sell. And what message does that send? If you take the cheap road with your own branding, what does that say about your faith in your message? It doesn’t say a lot I’ll tell you that. If you want people to blow them selves up on your behalf they can’t have any question about your commitment, and the seed of that feeling should be planted the first time they see your logo. You know I’m right about this one. Talk to Marco, he’ll hook you up. But don’t forget to bring cash, unmarked, big bills. Trust me on this one.

Impetus

“You can come in if you want, but don’t look anyone in the eye and if I say ‘go’ run for the door.”

We were on the way to school and Casey said he needed to pick something up – I’d assumed he meant at the store and didn’t think twice about it. When we pulled into that run down apartment complex off 43rd street I got more curious and asked what was up.

“I’ll tell you, but only if you can loan me a few bucks.”
“Um… OK? What do you need?”
“How much do you have? I need all of it.”
“I’m gonna need some more details here…”

“OK, I’m buying drugs. Specifically, some acid for Amy’s camping trip this weekend, I don’t know how many people are going so I’m buying whatever I can. I’ll pay you back next week I swear.”

I gave Casey the $40 I had and declined to go in with him. He was out of the car and back again in 5 minutes flat.

Since I helped pay for it I told him to let me see what it looked like. I’d never actually seen acid in person. “Sure, just don’t take it out of the baggie – if you touch it you’ll get dosed”

He handed me a small ziplock sandwich bag with a small sheet of paper in it with little perforations making tiny squares, and even littler stamps with the University of Florida logo on it. “Obviously those aren’t made by the university, but some chemistry students there make it” he said, I nodded but all I could think about was how easy this would be to fake.

30 days of fiction

My friend Susannah just finihed up a 30 day project challenging herself to write fiction every day. I followed this as she was doing it and the results she experienced are similar to ones I’ve gotten myself in previous “make sure to write something everyday” experiments. I’ve written before about my struggle to write fiction, non-fiction and philosophy I can spew all day, but fiction is much harder for me. Even though I’ve actually published that was kind of a joke, though a fun one for sure. The thing is, writing fiction is something I really want to do more of and it kind of drives me a little crazy that I have such a hard time with it.

 

Recently, when talking to my friend Clayton I mentioned that no matter what crazy impossible story I tell about growing up in Florida it’s instantly belivable because it happened in Florida, and that got me thinking about Susannah’s project and I thought maybe these things might go together nicely. So I think for January, and using “This happened in Florida” as a springboard, I’m going to try it out – one short piece of fiction every day. I’m not going to restrict myself to the Florida thing but I think it’ll be good inspiration to get the ball rolling. I need to think a little about the other restrictions – Susannah’s were 100 words in 15 minutes. I plan to post these as I go on my secret blog and if something manifests itself that I’m especially happy with perhaps I’ll post that elsewhere as well.

Elimination

After 2 weeks in the jungle I’m feeling super overwhelemed by everything in my house and about to go on a crazy purge rampage. Throwing away/donating so much stuff, I wish there was an easy way to quickly offer this stuff to friends but so far all attempts at that have resulted in piles of things sitting around my house for months. I’m getting everything off desks & shelves, clearing out drawers, being ruthless. How many pairs of pants and black shirts do I need? Less than I have for sure. Do I need this box that __ came in? No. 20 pairs of socks. No way.

 

One thing I really need to resolve is paperstuffs. I have no viable filing option and that results in a lot of stacks of things around. I’m sure others have faced this and found solutions in the past so I need to research. And of course I’m leaving town again this week so I have a small window to axe things, which is nice. Forced deadline.

Desk

Testing out Desk. I have about 10 different text editors that I use for various things, not to mention another 10 websites that I have some browser based interface that I need to use to post things. I get frustrated wishing one had the features of another or worse two being almost identical and not knowing if there’s some reason I should be using one over the other. Back in the day I had a desktop blog editor that let me write for all my sites from one place and publish that way which was great but eventually they stopped being updated and stopped working. Someone pointed out Desk to me the other day which does that (hence this test post that I’m writing with it) as well as a number of other straight forward text editing features. Maybe the way to look at it is a very clean and distraction free writing platform / text editor that lets you publish out what you’ve written in a variety of ways including to a blog on the web. You can also export text to HTML, RTF, DOCX or PDF. I can say that writing with it right now it’s quite nice, very much like the interface on Medium where there is nothing beside your text visible until you need it. If this works out it might be a nice central place to compose text and then export it to a blog, to Scrivner or Quip.

Penpals

Several things have crossed my mind recently. 1. I have old friends who I don’t keep up with because we’re not on the same social networks, or they aren’t on social networks at all. This didn’t use to be a problem for people to stay in touch thanks to this crazy ability to write letters to each other. 2. I’ve been enjoying messing around with my old typewriter. 3. Both 2015 and my 40th birthday are right around the corner.

All of these thoughts have come together and I think I’m going to try to orchestrate a penpal thing with a few people who commit to write letters in return. I think it will be fun.

Scheduling

I’ve been pretty bad about scheduling my days for most of my life. I get a lot of things done but I’m guilty of getting in the zone on one thing and before I realize it I’ve spent all day on it and while I’m happy with the results I’ve also discarded everything else I’d hoped to do during the day. I’m also easily distracted at times, so again I’m guilty of waking up and jumping into 20 different things and being happy with getting so much done only to realize that not a single thing that I did during the day was actually on my todo list – they were all things that just presented themselves. I’ve of course read all the GTD/GSD scripture so it’s not for lack of direction. Recently I hired an assistant to help with my scheduling, and what I mean specifically with that is my scheduling with other people. I realized how much time I was spending going back and forth trying to find a time that worked for this thing or that with someone, sometimes I swear we’d spend more time figuring out a good time to have a call then the time we’d spend on the call itself. This has been revolutionary for me. When something potential comes up I just CC Julia in an email and next thing I know it’s booked and in my calendar and all is well. She knows my preferences for timing and thinks of things I never consider when setting them up.

Results have been amazing. And I’ve been putting more specific items to do in my calendar and as I do I realize I actually get them done when I wanted to. But I also realized that in my rush to schedule somethings I’ve overlooked some other things. This hit me the other day and I couldn’t believe I’d been so silly. I was lamenting not having ridden my bike recently and knew I’d wanted to but just hadn’t found the time and then realized how stupid that was, that I should have just put it in my calendar. Haven’t had the time to get coffee with friends? I should block off time for coffee with friends in my calendar. Want to meditate for 15 minutes every day – easy, just put it in my calendar. I really can’t believe I’d seen how awesome it was to schedule all my work and not translated that to personally fulfilling things as well. Which I’ve just corrected, of course. And I’m excited to see how this week plays out.

Generation

I’ve been thinking a lot about the balance between creation and curation recently, or maybe the imbalance between the two. And how rewarding each are for different reasons. For better or worse I’ve spent a lot of my time and life in the curation category – finding cool things and pointing others to them. Be it bands, artists, news stories, whatever. I’ve also had my share of creation of course too – I put designing record covers in that category, and of course writing as well. Photography, music, art are firmly in creation. I’m much more confident about the curation – I know when something is awesome or interesting and I don’t second guess the urge or need to point other people to it. I love doing it – but in the end I’m still pointing to other people’s work and I’m only valuable tomorrow if I find more things to point at. I’m less comfortable with the creation but I find it infinitely more fulfilling. From now for the rest of time I made that, and I can look back on it and people can discover it years later and it still came from me. It’s just as awesome, maybe more so, today when I see someone wearing a t-shirt with a band logo I drew or quoting something I wrote many years ago. These things have a life of their own.

Making music and art now is similarly exciting and I’m looking forward to where that ends up. But it keeps making me think about opportunities I passed up that I didn’t even recognize as opportunities at the time. I was lucky to find punk rock in the mid-80’s and those influences changed my life. I felt like I contributed to the scene by putting out records and booking tours, but looking back now I shouldn’t have passed on the many chances I had to actually be in bands and create things that might have lasted. I don’t feel like I missed out so much as I didn’t get all I could out of it. I love the experiences I had, but I can’t help but recognize that there could have been more. I try to keep this in mind going forward with new ideas.

I have books that I wrote 10 years ago and never published, it feels too late now but I know I shouldn’t have talked myself out of it then. When it’s mine, I want things to be great and perfect. And I’m good at convincing myself that things need more work to be great, work that never gets finished. Real artists ship right? I need to ship more often.

I think a lot about the world right now and my place in it. I still do a lot of curation. I find things and point people to them. A lot of things I’m reading or things that sparked my interest. In turn, people point to me as a filter. But I don’t know that I really want to be a filter. I mean, I am so there’s that, but that’s not my aspiration, and at the end of the day thinking about and saying “Man, I linked to some great stuff today, so proud of that!” isn’t really something that happens. Ever.

And on top of that, the world is fucking depressing right now. The news is all bad all the time. And I think that’s influencing my mood in ways I don’t like. I wake up next to my beautiful wife to the sounds of our amazing kid causing some awesome chaos somewhere in our great house filled with wonderfully handpicked stuff and I smile. And then I see the news and I think we’re fucked. And then I pass that on to everyone else. I don’t want to ruin people’s days anymore.

I don’t know where I’m getting with this line of thought, just that I’m thinking. And I want to make more things. I want to make more music. I want to write more. I want to create more. So that’s what I’m going to do. Said. Done. Stay tuned.