idea > goal

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Been thinking about the concept of ideas vs goals in terms of how we can feel good all-round about what we’re doing and accomplishing.

The goal might be success, completing a project, accolades, joy… where the idea is the why. The reason you’re making this art or taking this job or doing whatever it is you’re hyped about.

The idea represents a love for the process as we never really know what the outcome or end goal might look like anyways.

In The Listening Book, W.A. Mathieu writes about older students claiming it’s taking them too long to learn the basics of playing piano. In his words,

“There’s no ought to know, there is only uncovering ourselves.”

Maybe this removes all the reasons we feel like we’re not learning enough or doing enough. That we’re not enough. If we’re enjoying the process (the why), we won’t have room to be frustrated or legitimatize inevitable wack self-deprecating feelings. We can even forget to be hard on ourselves because we should be at some magical other level by now.

Big ole red flag for me here with learning Spanish. I’ve been taking classes and meeting up to speak with friends and language groups for a couple of years now, so I can get pretty bummed when I feel like I can’t hold down a conversation with my neighbor Jesus across the back fence.

But when I’m listening to Jesus, my friend Ernesto, or my teacher Luz speak and actually understanding them, I feel amazing. In these moments, what I don’t know doesn’t cloud the space. It’s what I do know, what I’m doing that get’s the louder mic. It reminds me of the many convos I’ve had with Jesus—and while they weren’t perfect— they were alright. Something I can be hyped about.

My end goal with Spanish remains a big question mark. I don’t claim to have any idea what I hope to accomplish besides continuing to learn and improve how I can communicate with my community.

“Senor Verde” — future tattoo and a drawing my Spanish teacher Luz’s daughter did in the ’80s <3

We know from experience end goals will always shift, so maybe it’s all about enjoying and trusting in the process. We can listen deeply and learn which direction to pivot—learning what our hearts are really after. We’re unlocking the discovery in us to move at our pace of learning and growth. Any results here will probably be pretty rad.

CREW

second☮️

This brave bird comes down from the tree to alert everybody else up top

It chirps every second or so like a smoke detector with a low battery

An Abert’s Towee

“There’s a cat and a dude down here y’all!”

Brave enough to land a couple of feet from Violet Fontaine and I

The cat stays melting in the sun

The bird circles us continuing its constant chirp

What a badass

Like those little birds who chase the hawks away

They must feel untouchable

Seguro

Dunking on safety all day every day

Biked to the park to kick it with my friend Ernesto one day last spring. He and I created an awesome friendship through what started as an English/Spanish trade.

We catch up about anything and everything and have lots of time to go deep with around 2-hours a week carved out to chat, more time than I spend with any other friends or fam besides my wife sin duda (“no question” in Spanish 💫)

He is just about the nicest and most humble person I’ve ever met, and until recently was working in Tucson as a post-doc researcher on projects related to the DNA makeup of mushrooms and how they can be useful in other ways (something like that). Sorry if I butchered that, Ernesto!

We talk about 90’s NBA (Godzilla VS Barkley, etc), maté, food, and mostly just life in general. He always asks how my mom and dad are every time we chat (they’ve never met). His wife is a ridiculously dope artist and they are just an incredible rad combo to get to be around.

This spring day’s convo started like any other. We caught up in general for 20-minutes or so until he said: “Tengo noticias” (I have news). He shared that he and his wife are moving to Italy in a couple of months! Just the most humble dude ever hanging on to this news and not leading with it (my brain can’t compute!)—love learning from his humility and chill.

It’s been a tough decision for them for all the hardest reasons: jobs, money, family, and accepting joy. The “safe” route would be staying in Tucson for 2 more years at a job he doesn’t like, stacking more $, then making the move. Another “safe” option moving back to Argentina and planning a move to Italy sometime in the distant future.

They know it will be harder to make the move if they go back home first, given they’ve already downsized and are mentally ready to go now. So they decided to follow their hearts and leave for Italy in a couple of months!

Maybe this plan is even safer?

He’s super wise and laughs about supposed safety. Is it not safer, and healthier (mental health = physical health) to make the move and be happy? He can be very direct as I’ve noticed with other folks not from the U.S., only partially jokingly explaining if they stayed they’d just have to spend all the extra money they’re saving on therapy anyways. So maybe it’s safer for their long-term health to do what feels like the most heartbeat decision right now.

Some basic safety does exist for them in Italy. She is a citizen so they can both work. So this stuff is not not a part of the decision, it’s just not the only part of the decision.

Their plan involves borrowing some money from family in case they need a bit of cushion. They are openly accepting this offer and I’d argue this as another huge diss to regular, individualistic barriers we put in front of making dope moves. We tend to feel like we need to do things all ourselves but why wait? Pride? The money is there. It’s being offered. Why say no when you really want to say yes.

He talked about it being their duty to accept this offer. To enjoy life, to put egos in check, and accept help. What a diss it would be to the millions of folks dealing with life’s challenges around the globe for someone with the ability to live a dream to deny it!

Why let something as insignificant as money interrupt changing your life? I use insignificant in comparison to things like dreams, love, potential, our paths, art; as in this case, food will be on the table either way. They’re both super capable hustlers and will no doubt find work soon. I’ve offered to help them get some groceries if they need them, and I’m sure you have friends who would do this for you too.

To me, that is real wealth, and I felt this when our good bud B-Hill in Detroit took me and my friend in during a cross-country road trip. Things were getting a bit more challenging on the road. We woke up in NOLA realizing we weren’t accomplishing as much as we hoped—stuck in a cycle of sleeping in the van, sleeping at couch surfing spots, spending our money making our hosts breakfasts, spending our money meeting people at bars, and feeling kinda burnt out.

So we made the call up to Detroit and he offered us a parking spot at his house. We did the drive in a couple of days and knew we were close when we hit the first Tim Hortons in Ohio. My friend did the ordering and we ate mini donuts like chips for the last couple of hours of the trip.

We pulled up in his driveway and the first thing we did after a few minutes of hugs and laughs was take an all-expense-paid trip to the grocery store. We filled the cart like a family moving into a new home, excited to live and cook together. It felt so normal at the time, and in hindsight, it’s been one of my favorite examples of the power of crew—of what’s really real y’all. What safety and collective love and trust can look like against all the pressures of individualism and capitalism.

He stocked his fridge, put us up in bedrooms, let us set up in his studio, and we arguably accomplished much more staying in one space with fam than we had staying in rando parking lots around the Southern USA. We put aside the “safety” of our ego, pride, and plans and it 100% worked out for the better. We gave ourselves up to the creW.

adriene marie brown speaks to crew support on one of the earlier episodes of the Octavias Parabales podcast. She talks about all of the houses she has access to across the world and explains how her home in Detroit is on this list too. She and her crew all know where to find the hidden keys, access food, money, car keys. Everything they might need to survive.

Where buying a house can seem like and usually is one of the most individualistic things we do, I abso love this idea and feel like it’s a further playing out of the power of crew I witnessed in Detroit. And these are pro-ass humans—so I don’t imagine there’s constantly a friend sleeping on their couch, using their car, and eating their food. It’s a backstop and safety precaution for situations we never thought we’d actually see pre-2020.

Y’all down? Our spare key is under Bojuska (if you know, you know). Where’s yours?

Isn’t it all the same in the end (and in the morning)?

Sis with lots of cash is probably safe, fed, and housed. Odds are they’re having a coffee sometime after waking up. Folks with less money or those who are open to relying on crew or fam when needed are probably safe, fed, and housed. Also having coffees before navigating their day. Both are doing what they need to do to survive. Both may even be pretty happy. This is absolutely OK.

Alternative safety so often has the smaller voice and is looked at as wrong, lazy, unjust, and trivial. This focus on dreams and joy VS basic capitalism doesn’t need to be seen as lesser. We can follow our path, accept help, offer help, enjoy life, and still live and die just the same as any Scrooge McDuck MF in a pool of cash.

In Bird By Bird, Anne Lamott writes, “If you want to know about how god feels about money, look at whom she gives it to.” Lots of great folks, but lots of wack folks. All paths come with their own sets of issues. Shoutout to repping our path beyond pleasing capitalism.

If it is the same in the end (coffee, life, death)—why not try joy?

Having a coffee in Italy on slightly lower funds than sipping one in Tucson. Excited about the possibility of new work VS the inevitability of work you’re not psyched about.

What do we want to be thinking about while walking the dog, driving, eating, waking up? What choices are we making for safety and security and what do these words mean to us? What’s the safest thing to do right now in terms of health (mental and physical)?

How could any safety and security that doesn’t contribute to better health really exist? Is there an amount of money we could lose in tandem to improved health that would be concerning?

A quick update: my friends made it to Italy and have been there for about a month. It’s not easy, but they found a really dope little house in a small town that’s a short train ride from a beautiful beach and both of their jobs. And my dude Ernesto still even has time for a weekly chat (which totally caught me off guard)! Dang they’re dope and isn’t it just the coolest to witness friends living their dreams?

Hint hint.

LOVE

IRL & AOL

Been recognizing when I feel like I’m not enough or could be doing more. Nothing unsafe, just a part of being human or at least human as I know it. I wonder how much of this lacking feeling is driven by social media (after taking a 2-month break I can confirm: most of it). By FOMO. By the desire to be recognized (liked). By capitalism.

My social media break helped me rediscover this stuff doesn’t need to be as real as it feels and that I’m totally enough. I know that the only way to get noticed or heard or read is doing your work prolifically and doing it for you.

Folks work hard to build up themselves online. Not like roofing in 100+ degrees hard, but white-collar hard. If that’s you, props. I know it takes a ton of work. Unfortunately, social media and its ties to capitalism would have us all thinking we can/should be getting recognized at these levels too. And they trick us into thinking it’s easy. Making it easy to feel less great IRL.

Reminds me of some of the folks I used to run into when I was hitting lots of estate sales. I used to like to show up early to score records and clothes. Then I had a few experiences with people elbowing their way past me to get in first, running around someone’s house grabbing things and looking them up on their phone in a corner before anyone else has a chance to see them.

And I get it. This is work. For me, even having made money selling this stuff for a bit, I opt to work a job, get paid, and spend some of that money driving around buying weird stuff. That’s my choice, where some folks make a job of estate sale-ing and all powers to them—just not the way I want to be.

Same goes with tunes. I’ve been lucky in that it never needed to pay my rent, so I was always able to get as weird as I wanted and just do me. I can hear folks—for me mostly rappers because I notice them more—I can hear when it’s more about business. And with rap sometimes it’s 100% explicitly about business. Making money on songs is ridiculously hard so again all powers to them.

My choice is still to work a job and get to make art at my own pace around that. I try my best to look deeply here and own/honor this decision—making sure it’s not an excuse or something that’s easy to say when you’re not getting paid for art.

I think about artists I love. Prolific rappers. Folks I haven’t seen release stuff in a while. I hope they’re feeling amazing and just making art but I also often wonder how they’re supporting themselves. This said there are sooooo many ways to work in and around art without being the star. One being the day job in documentary film I’m lucky enough to have.

Been giving space for these thoughts and working on recognizing what’s real. Thinking about my classiest art heroes. Thinking about the dopest stuff my art has done. Where has that happened? Why do I need someone I haven’t talked to in a few years to like my stuff online? Why does it feel so good when they do?

One of the coolest things to happen with my art in recent memory is Andre 3k screen printing a shirt including my band logo. This had nothing to do with social media. He just wanted to learn to screenprint and liked the art. As a band, we sucked at social media. We did a year-long road trip with one fake Facebook account and a busted hard drive of photos to show for it.

We made a name for ourselves by playing lots of shows and dialing in our sound. A dear friend happened to be friends with the head of one of our favorite record labels. He introduced us IRL. We recorded our album in a beautiful mountain cabin without sharing any photos of the magic (thinking back I don’t think we even talked about it once). We worked on the tracks, got them mastered, and sent them over to our new boss. He was psyched enough to come up with a tracklist for a 10″ record.

It helps me to remember all of this happened off social media. It also all happened without talking about $. Our first ‘payment’ was a couple of stacks of records, a huge tote full of tapes, and a bunch of label gear and patches. Just saying this out loud again helps me ward off the inner-capitalist.

I love reminiscing about the pre-social media days when you’d connect with artists by doing shows, meet people at bars and coffee shops, and while making flyers or zines at Kinkos—the unexpected late-night artist hangout. You could do a few shows and support others doing shows and in time a community becomes visible. You give props, someone returns them, and the phone rings about a gig.

In the early 2ks, I was weirdly anti-myspace without any great rationale. Milo and Open Mike Eagle met there. Klip Mode started there (Suzi Analogue, Devonwho, Mndsgn). I was busy hating for no reason, in the basement, smoking, drinking, making a lot of music but only sharing it with friends and people on the bus that one time we decided to press like 600 CDRs (You want the ColdComp!?!)

I was lucky enough to have internet access in the mid-90s and remember reading Geocities and Angelfire pages, spending hours on Davey D’s Hip-Hop Corner (anyone?), and learning to DJ on a pre-YouTube site full of short RealVideo clips of how to do certain scratches. My RealAudio collection was popping (whatever happened to the Real lexicon?)— full of all the Wu-Tang freestyles I could track down on whatever I was using to search at the time. I also have a distinct memory of my brother and me reading posts about how Tupac was still alive one night when my parents went out for dinner and left us alone with AOL.

Somehow with all this interesting and relevant stuff happening on the computer in my house (I never thought of it as a separate space, as ‘online’), teenage me gave equal time to shit talking in AOL chat rooms. Jumping into sports pages to say “FUCK THE PACKERS!!” for the easiest ding-dong-ditch ever.

I’d join hip-hop rooms too and instead of engaging with folks I’d usually toss out a “WU-TANG FOREVER” and let that be my contribution. Having a real conversation online wasn’t something I ever thought about. I didn’t realize I could let my ego go a bit and be a part of a community. I’m not sure how many deep conversations I was involved in IRL either. Feels true to say all my interactions were clouded by anxiety around being accepted, cool, and depending on the group, holding or supporting the power.

I remember reading a rad article on LinkedIn (speaking of amazing social media platforms) years ago from a CA artist/designer who I so want to credit but I can’t refind it and I’ve reached my Linkedin scroll limit about 20 minutes ago … will update this if I can find them again!

Anyways they went real blunt. Calling out artists whining about not getting paid to do work when these same artists aren’t doing any social media. Her challenge to artists: why would a company invest in random you, and how would they ever even find random you, when there are people hustling to do the work and make a name for themselves?

This is true for that Pepsi deal on the horizon but I know other options exist. If you do real work in real life and connect with real people doing real stuff it’s possible to keep doing real, fun, rewarding work. Work you’re probably supplementing with other paid work, but that’s probably going to be the case anyways. And if you’re not going full capitalism with art, fuck Pepsi? I hope that’s not being a hater against artists who have those deals. Huge props to them. Zero doubt these deals came from yearssss of hustling. Artists designing Life-Water bottles deserve every penny and are sharing their art with millions.

My old friend and coworker Jimmy aka the infamous DJ Smokey and star of 90’s commercial country radio in Portland once told me about an interaction with a DJ who challenged his artistic integrity. Jimmy said, “Look, my audience is 40,000 people every day. What’s yours?”

Maybe the other DJ played weirder stuff, but they both performed, and Jimmy did it professionally. Just 2 people making choices, drinking coffee, and one likely smoking a lot more Winston cigarettes than the other (Smokey used to go through 2 packs per shift).

“Everybody says they want artists to make money, and when they do, everyone hates them for it,” explains Austin Kleon in Show Your Work. He goes on to destroy the idea of “Selling out,” even sharing this quote from Bill Withers (and how are you doing to argue with Bill Withers???) “We’re all entrepreneurs. To me, I don’t care if you own a furniture store of whatever—the best sign you can put up is SOLD OUT.”

It’s a choice. Not one we all get to make, but one that only comes after a shitload of hard work. We can choose to hold down a weird corner of art on the internet and IRL. It can be extra niche and fun and real and a great outlet to share. We probably won’t pay bills but if that’s OK, and if it feels better to get $ another way, cool.

Or, we can hustle like the artists we see staying busy, sharing work, creating work, flexing new creative ways to share and make stuff, and clearly spend hella time on IG to put it out there. That’s a choice too. It’s not an instant success scenario. Thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of artists are doing this every day. How many are getting big deals? How many more are feeding a system designed to keep us shopping and scrolling without benefiting from it?

My good bud Jon AD aka the Grand Cooley Mr. Myiagi always encouraged our crew to stay as underground as possible. Our conversations around this are epic. He advises us to stay weird. Stay in the space of is that a joke? Is that real? Can I join? He tells us to stay there as long as we can—I think offering our crew a sly warning of the bleak, defeating, and detrimental-to-the-craft vibes lurking on the other side.

What more could we want? Putting out art. Hanging with friends. What more is really desired? Are the desires beyond that based on fame and capitalism? Or are they grounded in the truth of freaking out the masses and creating change? Is the best way to accomplish this in our circle of influence, getting weird in a park, social media? Probably all of the above…

After a recent trip to San Juan island and Seattle to visit fam, I had so much fun off my phone and in nature that getting back online felt like I wasn’t practicing what was bringing me the most joy. Hence my 2-month social media break.

I still long for more interaction around art, but it’s not what I’m getting online beyond some truly heartfelt inspo from friends from time to time. Sounds like I need to join a writing group.

I’m frustrated that they have all of us locked on IG so much. It’s not OK to me. Generations of people locked into the same thing. Amazing work being shared on that same thing. Aren’t we losing something by homogenizing everything? What has IG done to change art and is that OK? I say this acknowledging I learned about 2 of my favorite visual artists in the world right there on IG. Their work hypes me up gallore. But I suppose I would have been OK without knowing about them, right?

I hope this doesn’t come off as the TLDR version of this classic and ironic Facebook post, “Hey everyone, I’m going to go on a sabbatical from posting for a while. I’ve just found that…”

Is the spreading of our art and ideas intrinsically linked to capitalism, and is social media just a connector? Is it possible to live in an art space uninfluenced by capitalism? When I journal in a notebook, is that linked to capitalism? I mean I’m sitting in a house I pay for and eating food I bought before going to work so… Sometimes I think the only real anticapitalistic art is graffiti that isn’t instantly shared on IG.

Websites are great as they’re your own space on the internet but they can also turn into a scene of obsessively looking at ourselves in the mirror over and over. I’d say most folks in my arena of having a blog visited by a few friends look at our own site about 100x more than anyone else. Maybe that’s totally OK too.

This comes up in the film work I do too—when my spidey sense is triggered by a Q&A panelist sending me the third update for their bio. The bio no one has read even 1% as much as they have, and they have this weird idea that since it’s online the whole world must be watching. It’s not true. If they wanted a bigger audience, maybe they’d take it to social media, or, and I know this might sound crazy, the street.

TLDR(computer)LOVE