Day Nineteen: Initiative

Today is actually January 22nd. I’m learning so far that I am unable to blog daily, but I am able to carry around a composition book where I make notes throughout the day, and in the morning when I am going through my readings and planning for the day. From there, I can go back in and type from the notes. When I can catch a 1-2 hour block, I can get to the computer and type from the notes. So far, it’s rather efficient, but getting several days behind stresses me out a little. I learned this from doing National Novel Writing Month several years ago. You can get a little behind and be okay, but once you are about a week behind, it’s really hard to catch up. I am getting a pretty good handle of my time management, but I will tweak my schedule some more.

I’m really trying to do quite a lot to get my life in order, and there is much work to be done, with all the goals I’ve set for 2017, but I think I’m doing pretty good so far.

jeffdahl
Jeff Dahl: An early mentor, first via mail correspondence in the 1990s and later as a member of his band 2000-2008.

As I mentioned earlier, I was going to discuss mentors, which the dictionary defines as “experienced and trusted advisors”. I was recently listening to the audiobook version of “Mastery” by Robert Greene  and he discusses in the book that having a mentor is important for the mastery of anything. In fact, as I have been working through the book “The Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday. Ryan apprenticed under Robert Greene from the age of 19.

When I was a teenager, I was a budding guitar player who was not quite “good enough” during the tail end of the hard rock/metal reign on MTV. I’ve never been one to handle rejection well, believe me, and I was replaced by a much better guitar player in a garage band I had for a while during high school. The other guy was more naturally talented, had worked harder learning the “shredder” style of guitar, and despite how much I tried to practice, I never could get a handle on doing much more than power chords, barre chords, and never seemed to have the patience and ability to figure out entire songs note-for-note from what little resources we had in pre-internet days: guitar tablature in guitar magazines. I was a voracious reader of anything rock n roll history, and I read about the New York Dolls in the The Illustrated “New Musical Express” Encyclopedia of Rock, an old book my friend found at a yard sale and gave to me, which became my bible of classic rock knowledge. I had interest in similar acts such as David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Mott the Hoople, Slade, T-Rex, etc.

I managed to get a cassette copy of “Lipstick Killers” by New York Dolls, released by ROIR (Reach Out International Records). From that cassette, I learned to be a real guitar player. The material wasn’t difficult to learn by ear and play along with the recording. At that point, I became a Johnny Thunders disciple. Shortly after getting that cassette, I purchased a VHS of miscellaneous New York Dolls video footage from one of the bootleg tape traders who advertised in one of the music magazines and saw the clip of New York Dolls on Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert. The performance of Johnny Thunders on that show was the original prototype for my stage attitude and style and it always stayed with me, even 20 years later.

Shortly after that, I immersed myself in old glam rock from the early 70s and punk rock from the late 70s, particularly the American punk rock, like Dead Boys, Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers, and Richard Hell & The Voidoids. I began buying issues of the punk rock fanzine from San Francisco called Maximum Rock n Roll Magazine, which were on sale at Ear-X-tacy Records in Louisville, and discovered there was an entire scene and network of pre-punk and “punk rock n roll” preservationists out there in the world. I saw an advertisement in Maximum Rock n Roll for music by Jeff Dahl for sale via mail order. I ordered his first three albums directly from cassette. The basic facts I knew:

  • He was from a band called Angry Samoans and another band called Powertrip.
  • He had played with Cheetah Chrome from the Dead Boys.
  • He was in an early 80s band called Vox Pop with members of The Germs and 45 Grave.
  • He played in the style of Dead Boys, New York Dolls, and Iggy & The Stooges.
  • He was supposedly big in Europe, and kind of an unknown in the U.S.

I was a little surprised to receive, along with the music I ordered from him on cassette and CD, personalized typewritten notes signed by him, along with a catalog of every album he had available, along with other similar acts he carried as a mail order distributor.

After graduation, I moved to Arizona, and discovered that he lived outside of Phoenix. We spoke on the phone, talking about music and records. In 2000, I was the first recruit in a new “Jeff Dahl is back!” band he was forming.

From him, I learned how rehearsals were handled, how records were made and released, how publishing was done, and how shows were booked. Much of that learning was actually applied with The Earps in getting our record deal and doing DIY tours in the US. Looking back, my relationship with Jeff Dahl really was an apprenticeship.

Later on, I worked with Ricky Rat from Thee Trash Brats after he moved to Indianapolis from Detroit. During his introduction of me to his much younger new girlfriend, he explained to her that Jeff Dahl had been a big catalyst bringing all the punk rock n roll bands together as a national network, showcasing them every year at the Desert Trash Blast in Arizona. I quote Ricky, to the best of my memory, in explaining to her that “Jeff Dahl found a niche in Europe following the death of Johnny Thunders and Stiv Bators, who were very popular in Europe. He filled the void for the fans who still wanted to hear that kind of music.” Later on, Scott Luallen from Nine Pound Hammer told me “Jeff Dahl was a GOD in Europe for about 10 years.” When I played with Jeff, we were a local band in the Arizona punk rock scene, aside from some shows we did in Hollywood and Las Vegas.

Video of my last performance with Jeff Dahl on February 23, 2008:

The Jeff Dahl Band disbanded following Jeff Dahl’s relocation to Hawaii. Before he left, we released “Back to Monkey City” on Steel Cage Records, which you can purchase here on Amazon. The album had a brief review written by David Fricke in “Fricke’s Picks” in Issue 1066 of Rolling Stone (November 27, 2008)

During my years of playing music, I had many mentors, some very skilled people I learned from, whose lessons are still useful today. Some were almost like deities (either living or dead) I had never met, others were right there with me on the stage, and others just wrote some books I read over and over.

Today, I have different mentors to guide me through the difficult times, problems & issues, and the trials of midlife. Some are the big folk heroes of world religions, like The Buddha, Jesus, and Lao Tzu. Others are historic western thinkers and philosophers like Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius, and more modern spiritual writers like Thomas Merton, Pema Chodryn, Jack Kornfield, Wayne Dyer, and Eckhart Tolle. The various authors of books I am reading to guide me through this year, down to Joe Zarantonello at the Thursday night meditation group at Loose Leaf Hollow.

Deng Ming-Dao on Initiative

Key points:

  • The world is a storm of myriad realities, and we cannot allow ourselves to be swept into this vortex. To do so, we become lost and lose our center.
  • Action must be guided by intellect and experience.
  • We learn from teachers, elders, and others.
  • We must test what we learn in the world.
  • We need to have both meditation and theoretical knowledge to be wise.
  • Our basis for initiative is: Wisdom, Courage, Timing, Perseverance.
  • We must burn clean, leaving no bad ramifications or lingering traces. A poor act leaves destruction, resentment and untidiness.

Much of today’s entry reminds me of the Joseph Campbell monomyth, or “hero’s journey”. Supernatural Aid. Meeting with the Mentor.

The Daily Stoic:

Our fortune changes. We may have lived well and lost everything, and got it all back. (Comparing this to the earlier Taoist idea that all life is destruction and regrowth, over & over again, it is very similar. Same idea as the hero’s journey too!)

The Stoics say:

One thing always remains.
Our freedom of choice.
Both big picture and small picture.

Tomorrow, I will discuss conquering laziness and what Steven Pressfield calls “Resistance” in creating any kind of art or project.

Cheers,
B.G.

Advertisements

One thought on “Day Nineteen: Initiative”

  1. Very nice tribute to your mentor, Jeff Dahl. I remember that farewell show well! So much fun. Excellent advice also from the Deng Ming Dao on Initiative.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s