Day Seven: Forbearance

Last night, I arrived at “Chateau Fairmonte”, which is a nickname for the home of Kevin “Hotwheels” McGregor, given to the place by his wife.

While I was there I recorded an interview with him.




The Earps pre-show rehearsal on January 6, 2017.

During the interview, McGregor mentioned that he had read the blog. He said that while he agreed with most of the content, he disagreed that there were every any competition between him and Aaron “Ump” McCollum for power in the band, and I may have misinterpreted the dynamic of their relationship.

As writer Harry Crews once said in an interview, “The only world I know is the one I see.”

Yesterday, I briefly entertained some remorse for posting about my assessment of our inter-band family dysfunction, but one must remember: Without tension, conflict, drama, and chaos, you don’t really have a story to tell. I have no desire to gloss over the issues, or forget that they ever happened.

“No man can walk out on his own story.”
-The Spirit of the West, in the movie Rango.

Vacation Diary:

  • Went hiking with Frank & Sharon Labor, the husband and wife bandmates in Labor Party and Battered Suitcases, at the Dreamy Draw Park hiking trail. 1.25 miles.
  • Brunch at Aunt Chilada’s in Phoenix. Mexican Eggs Benedict with Spicy Bloody Mary. It was okay. Not great.
  • Visit to Mike Bolenbach at Fullwell Studio near the Arizona State Fairgrounds. Mike was the recording studio engineer for all albums made by The Earps, and also mastered the EP released by my Kentucky country/rock band Moonshine Millionaires. His most famous client: Alice Cooper. Approximately 45 minutes of catching up on his newest equipment, took a guided tour of his living room, with its antique analog tape machines, and met his two assistant engineers.

Artic breath coils the mountain,
Rattling the forest’s bones.
Raindrops cling to branches:
Jewelled adornment flung to Earth.
-Deng Ming-Dao

A key message in Taoism is that one must live in harmony with nature, instead of fighting to have power over nature, which is an American thing. Today, Deng Ming-Dao discusses how trees lose their leaves in the winter, enduring storms, but standing through the winter to become adorned with the beauty that spring brings to them. Like the trees, we should stay true to our inner nature. As he says, “It is with this power that they withstand both the vicissitudes and adornment of life, for neither bad fortune nor good fortune will alter what they are.”

As a veteran of several consecutive volatile relationships with bad endings and one who has suffered losses in career and finances, like just about everyone else, the message I took away from the book today is that winter ends, things get good again, then winter comes back, and so on. Whether good things, or bad things are happening doesn’t change your inner nature.

“A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying God. It ‘consents,’ so to speak, to God’s creative love. It is expressing an idea which is in God and which is not distinct from the essence of God, and therefore a tree imitates God by being a tree.”
-Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

Some Exercises in Stoic Thinking:

Yesterday, I ended the blog post with a Ryan Holiday quote consisting of questions to ask yourself for the sake of self knowledge.

Have you taken the time to get clarity about who you are and what you stand for? Or are you too busy chasing unimportant things, mimicking the wrong influences, and following disappointing or unfulfilling or nonexistent paths?

Unimportant things I have chased:

  • The pursuit of pointless entertainment to escape from boredom.
  • Watching too much television.
  • Engaging in political debates on social media.

Mimicking the wrong influences:

  • Living the hard drinking lifestyle associated with rock n roll.
  • Getting involved in endeavors that are not a good fit for me just to get approval from someone else.
  • Taking and using bad advice.

Disappointing paths:

  • A few bands I’ve been really excited about being involved in have failed.
  • Most of my day jobs have been disappointing paths. Dead end. Low pay. Hostile work environments.

Unfulfilling paths:

  • Taking band gigs where I didn’t like the material, the band wasn’t good, or staying in bands long after it was pointless to continue and I should have started something new instead.
  • Call center jobs.

Nonexistent paths:

  • Didn’t pursue my writing aspirations like I feel I should have.
  • Should have kept journals and I didn’t.
  • Didn’t develop career skills and education.

Tomorrow, I fly home from Phoenix.

Today, I realized that while I live an isolated existence in rural Kentucky with few neighbors or friends, I was, or am, somebody in Phoenix. This is neither bad or good. You can choose your perspective of any situation. You can choose to call it “loneliness” or “solitude”.

I choose to call it solitude.

See ya tomorrow.

Theirs is the forbearance of being true to their inner natures. It is with this power that they withstand both the vicissitudes and adornment of life, for neither bad fortune nor good fortune will alter what they are. We should be the same way . We may have great fortune or bad, but we should patiently bear both. No matter what , we must always be true to our inner selves.
-Deng Ming-Dao

Day Five: Sound

Yesterday, I arrived in Phoenix almost 6 years after the last visit to my former home. The weather was sunny, about 60 degrees, a nice escape from the 40 degrees of fog and rain in Kentucky. Some stress from rushing to my connecting flight from Houston to Phoenix, but I made it with time to spare.

  • Lunch at Alice Cooper’stown in downtown Phoenix.  I’m a huge Alice Cooper fan. Buffalo chicken wrap with seasoned fries and Papago Brewing Company IPA.
  • Cruise down in Indian School Road to revisit my 2008-2009 neighborhood where I walked around drunk often, having been recently dumped by my ex girlfriend who looked like Joan Jett at the time. Jeff Dahl Band disbanded. My other band The Earps on the decline, it seemed. Depressed. Lonely.  Disconnected. Having thoughts of moving back to Kentucky. I remember thinking “I don’t want to still be drunk, alone in this backyard, in this tanking band when I’m 40”. That was 7 years ago. I’m 40 now. A rebound relationship produced my daughter, followed by my son two years later.
  • Met my girlfriend’s parents for dinner at the Macaroni Grill in Scottsdale. Ratatouille with tumbler of Chianti. Stories of her mother’s acting career and her father’s loss of his place in the Guiness Book of World Records for longest yo-yo’ing marathon. I believe he said 24 hours of yo-yo’ing. A fun evening.
  • Stopped by Kevin McGregor’s house, the same house where I lived as his roommate 2008-2009: The Dark Year. New furniture. Many improvement projects. New rehearsal studio in the garage. 7 month old baby in the crib. Last time I saw him we were fighting over business with The Earps and it got really nasty. None of that matters anymore. He looks very happy. A great storyteller, as usual.

A Brief Musical History of my Drummer Girlfriend

I hadn’t seen Jessica in 10 years. I met her and her then-husband, when they played in Monstar, sort of a co-ed punk/metal band I wasn’t really into, but they were great people and very friendly, I thought. I was playing for Jeff Dahl back then, when I wasn’t dealing with my then-girlfriend’s freakouts and Jerry Springer chaos. She and Jessica had actually been acquaintances. Jeff Dahl referred the all-girl punk band Hell on Heels to Jessica, after their drummer became pregnant and couldn’t tour. I believe Jeff was also at least partly responsible for getting Hell on Heels signed to legendary punk rock label Bomp! Records. Apparently, some other band had trademarked Hell on Heels, so they changed the name to Les Hell on Heels.

Les Hell on Heels debut. Note: Jessica is not on this album but was on the tour to support the album.

Local Phoenix media was all over Les Hell on Heels. Signed to Bomp!, working in Seattle with famed Nirvana producer Jack Endino, and surely the first Phoenix band to blow up nationally since The Refreshments.
They weren’t.

Bomp! founder Greg Shaw passed away, leaving Les Hell on Heels an orphan band. They were still getting lots of airplay on Little Steven’s Underground Garage for their Jeff Dahl-written song “You Ain’t So Cool” and touring.

Lineup changes. The second album came out on Dionysus Records. I lost touch with Jessica and all the Hell on Heels girls except for Cheka.

Les Hell on Heels 2nd album on Dionysus Records.

Jessica moved to San Diego. I spoke to her briefly on the phone when she first moved there.

In the meantime, my band The Earps blew up locally in Phoenix. On a trip visiting her parents in Scottsdale, she saw the article about us in 944 Magazine and sent a MySpace message to me: “Hey, I just saw you in a magazine!”

Periodic brief contact via Facebook.

Sometime in 2015, I chatted with her on Facebook and tried to call her.

She said she would call me back later.

She did call back later. A YEAR later.

We talked about Eckhart Tolle, Buddhism, and music stuff. She flew out to Kentucky a month later, and we have been a long distance couple since June.

She is currently playing in Battered Suitcases (featuring members of Labor Party) and gigging semiprofessionally with Mancini the Band.

Meeting Battered Suitcases tomorrow.


Turning off the music: 

“The deepest sound is silence. This may seem paradoxical only if we regard silence as an absence of life and vibration. But for a meditator, silence is sound unified with all of its opposites. It is both sound and soundlessness, and it is in this confluence that the power of meditation emerges.
-Deng Ming-Dao

From my Daily Stoic Workbook: 

To the Stoics, oiêsis (false conceptions) are responsible not just for disturbances in the soul but for chaotic and dysfunctional lives and operations. When your efforts are not directed at a cause or a purpose, how will you know what to do day in and day out? How will you know what to say no to and what to say yes to? How will you know when you’ve had enough, when you’ve reached your goal, when you’ve gotten off track, if you’ve never defined what those things are?
-Ryan Holiday, Clarify Your Intentions, Daily Stoic

Defined goals: 

  • One year of keeping this blog daily.
  • Write a book.
  • Pay off debts and save money.
  • Better health in 2017.

Say ” No” to:

  • Drama and dysfunction.
  • Requests to play in bands.
  • Frivolous spending.
  • Excessive drinking.
  • Facebook addiction.

Say “Yes” to: 

  • Waking up early.
  • Cultivating a regular writing practice.
  • Reading books and learning.
  • Physical challenges and exercises.

See you tomorrow.